News / Health

    Experts Troubled by New Dengue Outbreaks in Western Hemisphere

    Vidushi Sinha
    Dengue fever - a tropical disease once confined mainly to Africa and Asia - has become a growing problem in the Americas.  So far, there is no drug to treat the mosquito-borne viral disease or any vaccine to prevent the infection.  Public health experts say it has the potential to become a global health problem - more costly and difficult to control than malaria.

    “Dengue had been eliminated in this hemisphere for quite a while but unfortunately it got reintroduced and has been generally growing since then," said Donald Shepherd.

    Donald Shepherd spoke to VOA via Skype.  He and his colleagues studied the economic burden of dengue fever on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico (a U.S. territory).  Shepherd says the figure they came up with was staggering.

    “The economic cost of dengue averages $40 million per year," he said. "For the moderate size that Puerto Rico is it’s a substantial amount of money.”

    Dengue is a viral infection spread by the bite of a small, stripe-bellied mosquito called Aedes aegypti. Outbreaks commonly rise after heavy summer rains, which create stagnant-water breeding areas for the mosquitoes that carry the virus.  

    Dengue can cause high fevers, headaches, severe muscle and joint pain, lack of appetite and fatigue.  And in many parts of Asia and Africa where it is still endemic, the disease can prove fatal:

    “A nasty feature of dengue is something that microbiologists call 'antibodies enhancement' - such that if you have had one of the dengue serotypes and then you get another one then the second one is a more severe illness than it would have been the first time," said Shepherd.

    Experts say people can usually recover from these severe bouts of dengue, even with no drugs to fight the virus.  But they need to receive good medical care, especially close monitoring of bodily fluids, and proper diagnosis of dengue's high fever, -- which can be mistakenly blamed on more common causes.

    Dr. Dan Stinchcomb is the chief executive officer of Inviragen, which is developing a vaccine against the multiple dengue viruses.  He says developing a safe vaccine has been a significant challenge.

    “Because dengue is a problem that affects different ages throughout the world.  In Southeast Asia it's mainly a childhood disease, but in Central and South America and other parts of Asia it can still affect adults as well," said Stinchcomb.

    Experts say because the cost of treating dengue victims is so high, it's important that affected countries strengthen their traditional disease surveillance, prevention, and control efforts - until a drug or vaccine is available to combat the virus.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: mike harrison from: london, UK
    May 18, 2012 5:50 AM
    DENGUE FEVER ERADICATION
    It is not just about fogging or spraying………………..
    Through my company's work with natural mosquito repellents I am very aware of the dangers associated with dengue fever and am rather surprised at some of the medical professions lack of diligence to make sure the patient cannot spread the disease. The issue is that whilst the patient is running with a temperature in the febrile stage he or she is acting as a reservoir of the Dengue virus and when bitten at this stage by another mosquito then the disease spreads. An air conditioned room will keep away most mosquitoes, however without that luxury one must protect the patient AT ALL TIMES with repellent. The problem is that the active chemical ingredient DEET used in most repellents is not to be used too often or over applied, particularly to younger patients.The other problem is that DEET products tend to be rather oily, somewhat harsh on the skin and certainly uncomfortable to 'wear' all day -and it has to be all day for the Dengue fever carrier - Aedes aegypti - is active all day and not just at dawn and dusk as with most species of mosquito. The answer is a repellent proven effective against Aedes aegypti that can safely and comfortably be worn all day with absolutely no harmful chemical build up. You may well have guessed my company has such a product and we would love to think we could help stop the spread of the disease from the patient whilst also being the first line of defence for the nursing staff. It seems strange to us that even the World Health Organisations advice on caring for Dengue fever patients does not include the simple advice of protecting the patient from further bites, which of course is where the mosquito will get more 'ammunition' for its sometimes deadly work.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora