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article imageNew aggressive dengue strain hits thousands in Peruvian Amazon

By Paul Wallis     Feb 8, 2011 in Health
A new and deadly strain of dengue fever has struck 13,000 people in the Peruvian Amazon region. 14 people have died, and approximately 1600 have been hospitalized. The outbreak has caught Peru's health authorities by surprise.
The new strain of dengue is particularly dangerous to children.
Dengue fever is a virus. There are two basic strains of dengue, usually referred to as dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. There is no vaccination against either strain. Dengue is endemic in Peru and the local strain is known as the "Asian-American" strain.
The new strain, unlike the common endemic variety, causes shock in victims. Dengue is becoming a major problem in South America, with 125,000 cases reported in Venezuela in 2010 and approximately 1200 deaths in Latin America as a whole.
The new South American form of dengue is of particular concern to health authorities in the Americas because of its virulence and the fact that current favorable climatic conditions could encourage its rapid spread.
Dengue is in fact a global problem. It exists around the world in various forms and differing degrees as a public health risk.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities are warning of an increase in dengue cases after flooding in Jeddah.
In the Philippines, another country where dengue is endemic, public health campaigns are being waged to improve public awareness of preventative measures.
In Australia, the recent flooding in Queensland is reported to be responsible for an increase in cases of dengue fever in flood affected areas.
In Malaysia a 52% increase in cases of dengue fever has been reported, and genetically modified mosquitoes are to be employed to attempt to eradicate the mosquito species responsible for carrying the virus.
According to The Independent this methodology does have potential for success:
Last year Oxitec carried out a much larger field trial in the Cayman Islands involving the release of about 3 million GM male mosquitoes – the first release of a GM mosquito into the wild. The company said that the local population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species that carries the Dengue virus, fell by 80 per cent.
Australia is also in the process of adopting the genetically modified mosquito approach to deal with dengue in Australia's far north, where it's been endemic since colonization.
The genetically modified mosquitoes, being males, don't drink blood and pose no threat of infection.
More about Dengue fever, genetically modified mosquitoes, Peruvian Amazon
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