Dengue Fever

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Introduction

Dengue fever (DF) is a disease caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans through the bites of mosquitoes (CDC, 2014).  Dengue is commonly found in more than 100 countries  today (WHO, updated 2016), and more than 40% of the world’s population are at high risk for infection (CDC, 2014).  The increase in international travel to high risk dengue countries has increased dengue related hospitalizations in the United States and Europe (WHO, updated 2016).

The World Health Organization estimates that close to a million people are infected with dengue fever each year and that half of those will develop the more serious symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and over twenty thousand of those will die (CDC, 2014).  Between 2010 and 2015, the number of cases of dengue fever reported annually rose by approximately one million cases, from 2.2 million  to 3.2 million cases; this increase is equal to the increase from 1996 to 2005 (WHO, Wer, 2016).  WHO estimates that there is a substantial underreporting of dengue fever cases and estimates the global incidence between  50 million and 100 million cases, primarily in Asia, Latin America, and Africa (WHO, Wer, 2016).

The dengue virus is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates and mostly in urban and semi-urban areas (WHO, 2013). It is the leading cause of death in children in some Asian and Latin American countries (WHO, 2013). While there is no vaccine, and no specific treatment, access to medical care can lower the fatality rates for those who contract it to almost zero (WHO, 2013). Researchers are currently working on ways to manipulate mosquitoes’ guts to make it resistant to pathogens and thereby not dangerous to humans; however for now, the best strategy for dealing with dengue fever is prevention (McQuire, 2010).

 

Figure 1 - Dengue, countries or areas at risk, 2013. Retrieved 26 September, 2016 from http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_DengueTransmission_ITHRiskMap.png

Figure 1 Dengue, countries or areas at risk, 2013. Retrieved from http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_DengueTransmission_ITHRiskMap.png