The chief scientist from the World Health Organization is warning that Earth’s rising temperature will make dengue fever a massive threat within this decade.
The chief scientist from WHO has reported that dengue fever is expected to have a massive impact on Europe, the United States, and new regions in Africa within a decade, according to EuroNews.Green. The infection is carried by mosquitoes, which are projected to be affected by rising global temperatures, driving the insects into territories that they haven’t previously inhabited.
Why is dengue fever concerning?
In Latin America and Asia, dengue fever causes as many as 20,000 deaths every year — and since 2000, the global rate of the disease has increased eight times over, thanks in large part to the dangerous overheating of the planet, per EuroNews.Green.
The outlet notes that 4.2 million cases of the disease were reported last year and that officials expect 2023 may see a number close to the record amount of cases. Additionally, it’s important to note that a significant portion of dengue fever cases end up unreported.
Dengue fever is also referred to as “break-bone fever” due to the muscle spasms and joint pain that it causes. Most dengue patients are asymptomatic, which makes it difficult to track and prevent outbreaks and transmission.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 5% of people infected end up developing a severe case of the disease, and less than 1% of cases overall are fatal, when properly diagnosed and treated, per Medscape.
Pregnant people, children, and prior dengue patients are at higher risk than other segments of the population, EuroNews.Green reported.
What’s being done to combat dengue fever?
There is a vaccine for dengue fever available. WHO recommends children between the ages of six and 16 receive Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Qdenga vaccine in regions affected by the disease.
Additionally, experts believe that public funding for mosquito control and planning for hospital triaging will help reduce the impact of the disease, per EuroNews.Green. The most impactful strategy you can employ to prevent the disease is eliminating standing water in and around your home, as standing water attracts mosquitoes.
“We need to talk much more proactively about dengue,” Jeremy Farrar, the chief scientist and an infectious disease specialist with WHO, said, according to EuroNews. “We need to really prepare countries for how they will deal with the additional pressure that will come … in the future in many, many big cities.”
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