Why the World needs an International Dengue Day
This year, the World Health Organisation listed dengue fever as one of 10 global health priorities for 2019. Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection that presents as flu-like illness and, in severe cases, can progress to cause haemorrhagic infection. The global incidence of dengue has greatly risen over the past few decades; with a study from Bhatt et al. (2013) estimating 390 million human dengue infections each year. In addition, due to the rapid geographical spread of invasive mosquitoes, frighteningly, over half of the world’s population are now at risk. These demographic shifts are largely due to anthropogenic-driven environmental changes, such that mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti which transmit dengue, are able to inhabit novel regions in which they were previously unable to survive. These areas include Portugal and Spain; in which we have seen locally-acquired cases emerging over the past few years (Aranda et al., 2018). In addition, we are observing large increases in countries in which dengue is already endemic; for example, Sri Lankan Health Sector Officials have warned that there is a high risk of dengue spreading rapidly within the next three months.
Nonetheless, the global burden of dengue remains significantly underestimated; with misdiagnosis affecting healthcare systems worldwide. Whilst early detection and access to proper medical care reduces mortality rates to under 1%, there is currently no specific treatment for dengue. This is largely because there are four types of dengue; DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. Infection by one of these strains provides immune protection against re-infection of the same strain (in the same way that you become immune from chicken pox following infection). However, if, for example, you were to be infected by DEN-1 and then subsequently by DEN-3, this latter infection would be associated with an increased risk of severe disease. Therefore, whilst initial infection confers protection against subsequent infections of the same strain, re-infection by different strains is associated with elevated mortality rates. Thus, it has proved extremely challenging to create a vaccination that effectively protects against all four strains.Dengue is now endemic in over 100 countries worldwide, compared to just 9 in 1970. Undeniably, the rising incidence is accompanied by monumental social and economic burden. Infection perpetuates a cycle of poverty and inequality; due to hospitalisation resulting in children missing days of school and adults taking significant days of work. Furthermore, the epidemic induces severe strain on healthcare systems and infrastructure; estimating to cost over £7 billion in direct and indirect medical costs. Despite the detrimental impacts of this vector borne disease, dengue receives a disproportionate level of media attention and research funding. Shockingly, despite the devastating number of annual victims, there is still no International Dengue Day. At incognito, we want this to change!Break Dengue is an incredible charity that works to inform and educate the world about dengue fever; whilst developing an integrate program to combat the disease. They have teamed up with the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases to create a global movement to petition the 74th UN General Assembly to designate a World Dengue Day (sign the petition here: https://www.breakdengue.org/world-dengue-day/). This would be monumental in boosting the recognition of dengue as a serious tropical disease. At incognito, we believe that the establishment of an International Dengue Day will be critical in combatting the spread and treatment of dengue; allowing for increased education, research and funding into the disease.If you are travelling to a dengue-endemic region, the best way to prevent contraction of dengue is to avoid being bitten by dengue-carrying mosquitoes altogether. Since Ae. aegypti bite during the day, if you are visiting a sunny region, we recommend using our revolutionary 3-in-1 Suncream Insect Repellent and then our Award-winning spray at night (as many other insects bite at night). However, if you are visiting an area that does not require sun protection, then our spray or roll-on will provide complete protection round-the-clock!
Aranda Carles, Martínez Miguel J., Montalvo Tomas, Eritja Roger, Navero-Castillejos Jessica, Herreros Eva, Marqués Eduard, Escosa Raúl,Corbella Irene, Bigas Esther, Picart Lluís, Jané Mireia, Barrabeig Irene, Torner Núria, Talavera Sandra, Vázquez Ana, Sánchez-Seco Mari Paz, Busquets Núria. Arbovirus surveillance: first dengue virus detection in local Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in Europe, Catalonia, Spain, 2015. Euro Surveill. 2018;23(47):pii=1700837. https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.47.1700837
Bhatt S, Gething PW, Brady OJ, Messina JP, Farlow AW, Moyes CL, Drake JM, Brownstein JS, Hoen AG, Sankoh O, Myers MF, George DB, Jaenisch T, Wint GR, Simmons CP, Scott TW, Farrar JJ, Hay SI. The global distribution and burden of dengue. Nature. 2013 Apr 25;496(7446):504-7. doi: 10.1038/nature12060. Epub 2013 Apr 7. PubMed PMID: 23563266; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3651993.