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Research Suggests Number Of Dengue Cases Three Times Higher Than Current WHO Estimate

“Around 390 million people are infected each year with dengue fever — the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease — more than triple the current estimate by the World Health Organization, experts said on Sunday,” Reuters reports. The findings, published by researchers from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust in the journal Nature, “underscor[e] the growing burden of the mosquito-borne viral disease, which is also called ‘breakbone fever’ because of the severe pain it can cause,” the news agency continues (Hirschler, 4/7). “The research has created the first detailed and up-to-date map of dengue distribution worldwide, enabling researchers to estimate the total numbers of people affected by the virus globally, regionally and nationally,” a Wellcome Trust press release states (4/7).

“WHO said it wasn’t surprised by the higher estimates,” the Associated Press writes, noting the agency was not involved in the research. Raman Velayudhan, WHO’s global dengue coordinator, said, “We fully agree the spectrum of dengue is very wide and there was every chance we were missing cases,” the news agency reports (Cheng, 4/7). “There is no vaccine, nor are there drugs to treat dengue,” ScienceNOW writes, adding, “Patients with severe dengue recover on their own with medical support, but complications occasionally cause death.” The news service continues, “The new findings won’t impact the clinical management of dengue. But the authors believe that their more precise mapping of the disease’s distribution and the better estimate of total infections will help public health officials plan mosquito control efforts and future vaccination campaigns and to measure their impact” (4/7).