Dengue knows no boundaries

By Alyah Khan

The tremendous scope of the dengue problem becomes clear when you consider the number of places where the virus is present.

According to an update posted at the end of November by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dengue cases have been reported in all tropical and many subtropical areas worldwide.

This includes the following regions of the world: Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, the Atlantic Islands, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean and the Middle East.

We recently wrote a blog post about the situation in the Atlantic Islands, where a dengue outbreak has occurred on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

A Dec. 10 article by Reuters states that 118 people have been hospitalized on the island because of dengue, but no deaths have been reported. The article added that Portugal’s health secretary believes the dengue outbreak is “waning.”

A region that we haven’t looked at much in the past is Africa. According to the CDC, as of August, “cases of probable dengue continue to occur in Mogadishu, Somalia. As of May 2012, probable dengue cases have been reported in eastern Kenya, and cases have been confirmed in Madera, Kenya.”

The CDC notice also discusses the threat dengue poses to international travelers. The notice states that confirmed dengue cases have been reported in U.S. travelers returning from parts of Asia, including the Philippines and Thailand, and countries in Latin America, such as Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

For the people who call those Asian or Latin American countries home, a dengue outbreak can sometimes mean life or death. In the Dominican Republic, for example, Prensa Latina reported that dengue caused 52 deaths in the first 11 months of this year. And there are nearly 9,000 people in the Dominican Republic that have been affected by dengue.

Dengue appears to be slightly less of a concern in the Middle East, although the virus is reported occasionally in places like Saudi Arabia. In that part of the world, the most dengue activity is occurring in Pakistan and Yemen, according to the CDC.

Just recently, news out of Karachi, Pakistan reported that four young people had died because of dengue.  Last year, Pakistan faced a major dengue outbreak and news on dengue cases rising in the country has continued this year.

Much of the attention over the last few weeks has been on the dengue epidemic in India. A Nov. 6 article in the New York Times explained that, “India has become the focal point for a mosquito-borne plague that is sweeping the globe.”

Photo from DengueMap, A CDC/HealthMap Collaboration.

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