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Dengue Fever Spreads In Asia, WHO Warns 2.5B People At Risk

The WHO “has warned that 2.5 billion people are at risk” of dengue fever, “which has ‘grown dramatically in recent decades,'” Agence France-Presse reports. WHO officials cite higher temperatures, growing populations and international travel for the “rapid rise in urban mosquito populations” and in dengue. Seventy percent of the at-risk population is in Asia, the WHO said.

According to WHO data, “the highest number of reported cases in Asia this year to August are in Indonesia (80,065) followed by Thailand (57,948) and Sri Lanka (27,142),” the news service reports, adding details about efforts to prevent further infection. For example, “[i]n Sri Lanka, authorities have introduced heavy fines for people with standing water in their homes, and troops have been deployed to clean up public places.” According to AFP, Malaysia has “backed away from a controversial trial of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the disease” because of concerns from environmentalists.

According to Yogesh Choudhri, an expert at the WHO on the Asia region, “Dengue is appearing in new areas.” Choudhri also “said the disease had crossed new international borders and spread within countries.”

Dengue cases in India “were at a 20-year high with 50 people dead and 12,000 reported infections,” but the number of actual infections is “likely to be far higher,” AFP reports. In New Delhi, government hospitals “are overflowing with dengue victims as the city hosts 7,000 foreign athletes and officials for the Commonwealth Games, which finish next Thursday” (Nair, 10/7). Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that an Indian team official affiliated with the games contracted dengue last week, the first at the event (Siddique, 10/3).  

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.