Asia Minute: Dengue Challenges in Southeast Asia

Feb 22, 2016

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Community meetings about dengue fever are being held this week on Hawai‘i Island. Officials will answer questions and provide updates Tuesday at 12:30 in Captain Cook at Yano Hall and Thursday at 11:30am in Hilo, at the State Office Building. While the education campaign continues on the Big Island, dengue is also raising concerns in Southeast Asia. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

While cases of dengue fever remain well below 300 on the Big Island, the situation is exponentially worse in Southeast Asia.  Last week, Singapore’s National Environment Agency warned the number of cases in that country.  Singapore’s record high for the disease was a little more than 22-thousand cases…a figure reached in 2013.

It’s a similar story elsewhere in Southeast Asia.  Malaysia has already topped 20-thousand cases since the start of the year…including a more severe strain, which has killed more than 40 people.  Health workers in Thailand and Indonesia are also expecting an increase in cases.  The Jakarta Post reports portions of seven provinces across Indonesia’s sprawling islands have declared emergencies relating to the outbreak of dengue.  Thailand’s Public Health Ministry says cases may rise by 16% from a year ago…which could mean more than 150-thousand this year.

Government scientists are blaming El Nino—saying the weather pattern is supporting faster breeding cycles of the mosquitoes that carry the virus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say as many as 400-million people are infected with dengue fever every year.