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Dengue fever global epidemic ‘IMMINENT’ as deadly mosquito-spread infections soar

Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes and there is currently no vaccine to protect people from it.

The infection is found in southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, South and Central America, Africa, the Pacific Islands and Australia.

But it is spreading.

Mathematical epidemiologist and expert in infectious disease transmission Hannah Clapham exclusively told Daily Star Online dengue fever is rising due to a wider geographical range.

“There are increasing numbers of cases where there are outbreaks and the geographical range is getting wider,” said Dr Clapham.

“It is very concerning for people.”

Rates of infection have increased dramatically this year with Thailand seeing a four-fold increase in cases compared to last year.

Hospitals are being ordered to set up emergency facilities to deal with the worrying rise in cases of dengue fever since the start of 2019.

Public Health officials have held crisis meetings to discuss what to do amid fears that dengue figures could reach epidemic proportions imminently.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Paraguay, Saint Martin, and Venezuela have all reported sharp increases in dengue fever cases.

Children are being particularly affected, according to Doctors Without Borders.

Dengue fever can damage the lungs, liver and heart.

Blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels, causing shock and, in some cases, death.

Dr Clapham said: “Treatment is supportive so it’s not something you can be cured of.

“You can be supported and your outcome improved but ultimately the treatment is not going to stop the virus.”

“Although the mortality rate for dengue is low in areas where they know how to treat it, the worry is with the geographical spread is it is infecting areas that don’t know how to treat it.”

Symptoms of dengue usually develop suddenly 4 to 10 days after becoming infected.

Symptoms can include:

  • A high temperature (fever), which can reach 40C (104F) or higher
  • A severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Feeling or being sick
  • A widespread red rash
  • Loss of appetite

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