WHO Raises Alarm On Spike In Dengue Infections—-The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised alarm on the increase in dengue infections recorded in 2023 globally, which represents a potentially high public health threat.
The UN health agency gave the warning on Friday as it reported more than five million dengue infections and 5,000 deaths from the disease worldwide in 2023.
Briefing journalists at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Dr. Diana Rojas Alvarez, WHO Team Lead on Arboviruses, said the threat required maximal attention.
Alvarez said the threat also required response from all levels of the UN health agency to support countries in controlling current dengue outbreaks and prepare for the upcoming dengue season.
Dengue is the most common viral infection transmitted to humans bitten by infected mosquitoes. It is mostly found in urban areas within tropical and sub-tropical climates.
The rise in the number of reported cases of dengue in more countries is explained by the fact that infected mosquitoes now thrive in more countries because of global warming associated with rising emissions.
“Climate change has an impact in dengue transmission because it increases rainfall, humidity and temperature.
“These mosquitoes are very sensitive to temperature,” she said.
Although four billion people are at risk from dengue, most of those infected are symptom-free and usually recover within one to two weeks.
However, severe dengue infections are marked by shock, severe bleeding or severe organ impairment, according to WHO.
It also highlighted that these dangerous symptoms often start after the fever has gone away, catching carers and medical professionals unawares.
It warned that signs to look out for included intense abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding gums, fluid accumulation, lethargy, restlessness and liver enlargement.
As there is no specific treatment for dengue, early detection and access to proper medical care is crucial, to lower the probability to die due to severe dengue.
“Since the beginning of this year, over five million cases and about 5,000 deaths of dengue have been reported worldwide and close to 80 per cent of those cases have been reported in the Americas, followed by Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific,” Alvarez said.
She added that “it is also concerning that dengue outbreaks are occurring in fragile and conflict-affected countries in the eastern Mediterranean region such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
The global prevalence of mosquitoes has changed in the last few years owing to the 2023 El Niño phenomenon, which accentuated the effects of global warming temperatures and climate change, WHO said.