Experts are warning of a significant increase in dengue cases across the Western Hemisphere, with record-breaking numbers reported this year. Rising temperatures and urbanization are identified as key factors contributing to the spread of the disease.
According to reports, more than 4 million cases of dengue have been reported throughout the Americas and the Caribbean so far this year, surpassing the previous record set in 2019. Lack of sanitation and weak health systems exacerbate the rise in cases, but climate change-related factors such as droughts and floods are also increasing the spread of the virus.
The higher temperatures experienced in the Northern Hemisphere expanded the habitat of mosquitoes that carry dengue, leading to faster virus development and increased transmission rates. In fact, the Northern Hemisphere experienced its hottest summer ever, and 2023 is the second hottest year on record.
Dengue, which was previously thought to be prevalent mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, has now been identified in 22 European countries, with local spread observed in France, Italy, and Spain. This highlights the global reach of the disease and the need for concerted efforts to control its spread.
Bangladesh is particularly affected by a record number of cases and deaths, with a high mortality rate occurring within a short time after hospitalization. The country is struggling to cope with the surge in cases and the strain it puts on the healthcare system.
Dengue affects 129 countries worldwide, putting about half of the global population at risk. The Caribbean is also witnessing an increase in cases, with a 15 percent rise reported by early October compared to the same period last year. Epidemics and outbreaks have been declared in Guadeloupe, Martinique, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Barbados.
Unfortunately, poor countries face the greatest challenges in dealing with dengue, as inadequate sanitation and housing conditions contribute to mosquito breeding grounds. Additionally, dengue is difficult to treat, and delayed medical care can lead to a rapid progression of the virus.
The demand for clinical care can put significant strain on healthcare systems, especially in developing countries. This highlights the urgent need for improved infrastructure, better sanitation, and stronger healthcare systems to effectively combat the spread of dengue.
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial not to overlook the increasing threat of dengue. This disease deserves attention and concerted efforts to control its spread, as it poses a significant risk to public health across the Western Hemisphere and beyond.
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