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Dramatic Drop in Dengue Fever Cases

INTERNATIONAL: The World Health Organisation says there has been a massive drop in reported cases of dengue fever across Southeast Asia this year. Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia are all enjoying a vastly improved dengue fever season, with Cambodia’s case count down 72% on last year, which was already 88% down on 2019.

The WHO says that the Covid-19 pandemic may have led to some under-reporting of cases but also believes that the pandemic’s lockdowns and social distancing measures have had some positive effects. When the pandemic hit last year, many experts predicted a surge in dengue cases with people spending extended periods of time at home, but it would seem the opposite is true.

The WHO has noted that less movement of people in cities especially, could well be behind the drop in cases, putting a renewed focus on dengue control measures at schools and places of work.

Dengue fever is a potentially fatal disease spread by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They’re the ones with the black and white striped legs. Their larvae can survive more than a year, before developing into mosquitoes when the first monsoon rains arrive. The drop in cases is welcome news in Cambodia, which experienced a surge in cases in 2019. Over 60-thousand people became infected and there were over 150 deaths. At the time, scientists said this was part of a seasonal cycle, with cases peaking every 5-10 years.

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