While the number of malaria deaths has fallen by one-fifth over the past decade globally, according to a report released by Roll Back Malaria on Monday, “India is still recording high numbers of deaths, which some experts say are underestimated,” Agence France-Presse reports. The WHO “says about 5,000 children and 10,000 adults die each year from malaria in India,” AFP reports, adding, “However a study published last year by the Lancet said there are more than 200,000 malaria deaths each year and that WHO’s reporting is flawed.”
“The government in Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab is struggling to control a growing dengue fever epidemic, officials say,” and they “have warned that it threatens to affect other parts of the country,” BBC News reports. “Punjab Health Secretary Jehanzeb Khan said that this year more than 4,000 cases of dengue fever had been reported, a significant increase over previous years,” and at least eight people have died of the disease, according to the news service. Officials “say that the illness is thriving because of poor hygiene, an absence of control measures and the fact that recent heavy monsoon rainfall has lowered temperatures and provided lots of water — ideal conditions for dengue-carrying mosquitoes,” the news service writes (Khan, 9/13).
“In dengue-endemic areas such as South-East Asia, in contrast to conventional thinking, rural areas rather than cities may bear the highest burden of dengue fever,” according to a study led by Wolf-Peter Schmidt from the Nagasaki Institute of Tropical Medicine in Japan and published in this week’s PLoS Medicine, a PLoS press release states. The authors “analyzed a population in Kanh-Hoa Province in south-central Vietnam (~350,000 people) that was affected by two dengue epidemics between January 2005 and June 2008” and “found that at low human population densities, mostly in rural areas, dengue risk is up to three times higher than in cities, presumably because the number of mosquitoes per individual is higher in low-density areas,” according to the release (8/30).
Injecting mosquitoes with the Wolbachia bacterium “can block them from transmitting the dengue virus and help control the spread of a disease that kills 20,000 annually in more than 100 countries,” a team led by Scott O’Neill, a geneticist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, reports in two papers published in Nature on Thursday, Reuters reports. The “researchers in Australia showed how female mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria passed the bug easily to their offspring, making them all dengue-free,” according to the news agency (Lyn, 8/24).
The Washington Post looks at the history and future of disease-carrying mosquitoes, “the most deadly non-human animal on the planet.” The newspaper describes several mosquito-control methods, and poses the question, “If scientists could find a way to wipe out all mosquitoes â€“ recent studies have shown that it may be possible to chemically sterilize males and dupe the females into mating with them â€“ would that be a good idea?” (Palmer, 8/15).
The New Scientist reports on a software program that is being used “to identify a high correlation between the time and place where people tweet they have dengue and the official statistics for where the disease appears each season.”
NPR’s All Things Considered on Tuesday examined the efforts of the British company Oxitec to develop a genetically modified mosquito meant to wipe out wild populations of the insects, which carry potentially lethal diseases such as dengue.
An inexpensive, non-invasive cheek swab saliva test for dengue has been developed by researchers in Singapore and is undergoing multi-center evaluation, SciDev.Net reports.
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday as part of an event marking ASEAN Dengue Day signed a new action plan aimed at fighting dengue in the region, the Jakarta Post reports.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) at the launch of Dengue Day on Wednesday called on all sectors of society to unite in the battle against the disease, which has developed into a formidable threat to health in Asia, a press statement said,” Xinhua reports.