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New York Times Examines Efforts To Stop Spread Of Dengue In Asia

“While emerging diseases like influenza A(H1N1), also known as swine flu, continue to dominate the headlines, experts say dengue is not only thriving in many endemic areas, it is also spreading to countries previously unaffected by the disease,” New York Times writes. WHO data “show the number of cases in Southeast Asia surged from 152,448 in 2004 to 242,241 last year. In the Western Pacific region, 213,248 cases were reported in 2008, up from 160,823 in 2004.”

The article includes information on how greater population mobility and urbanization have contributed to the spread of dengue – a treatable illness for which there is currently no vaccine.  “The urban sprawl found in Asian cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, where many residents live in substandard housing with poor sewage and water management, provides ample breeding sites for mosquitoes,” the newspaper writes. “The increase in air travel in the region has also made it more likely that a person bitten by an infected mosquito can carry the virus to another country.”

To prevent the spread of dengue, residents in Singapore and Malaysia are fined “if mosquitoes are found breeding on their property,” the newspaper writes. WHO officials are looking at Indonesia as a model for success in reducing mortality rates from dengue – the country “succeeded in bringing down mortality rates, from 40 percent in the late 1960s, when the first cases were identified, to less than 1 percent now,” the result of intensified surveillance programs and educational outreach (Gooch, 9/1).

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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.