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The incidence of Dengue Fever has steadily been growing around the world over the past few decades. The mosquito-borne virus seems to hit developing countries hardest and poorer communities in particular. Member states in three WHO regions that regularly report annual cases indicate that incidence has exploded from 2.2 million cases in 2010 to over 3.34 million in 2016. According to one study cited by the World Health Organization, dengue threatens roughly 3.9 billion people in 128 countries. Before 1970, only nine countries had experienced dengue outbreaks. Today, it is now endemic in over 100 countries. Clearly, it’s a growing and increasingly deadly problem.
Following two years of decreasing dengue cases worldwide, countries are experiencing a spike in clinically diagnosed infections. Southeast Asia is bearing the brunt of the increased incidence. Cambodia has gone from 6,000 cases in 2018 to 38,000 in 2019. Laos has gone from 4,400 (2018) to 24,758 (2019). Vietnam shows more of the same, going from 37,200 (2018) to 124,751 (2019). Even richer countries like Singapore experience significant increases, 2,000 (2018) to 11,810 (2019).
As the graph shows, dengue fever has hit the Philippines particularly hard this year. 208,917 cases have been diagnosed compared to 103,000 in 2018. The jump seems to have caught the country’s Department of Health flat-footed, prompting the agency to declare a National Dengue Epidemic. As a result, local authorities implemented much needed community and school clean-ups of stagnant water. It also oversaw control measures such as spraying and the installation of ovitraps and physical window screens in public schools.
Over 800 people have died from severe dengue infection in the Philippines so far this year. This is particularly troubling considering the island nation’s recent troubles with Sanofi Pasteur’s controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia. The public’s growing mistrust of vaccines that resulted from the mishandled incident has led to an increase in polio cases, most likely due to a precipitous drop in vaccination rates.
DATA: WHO; EUCDC
IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons