NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of a severe increase of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne infection, mainly in urban and semi-urban areas.
The organisation cautioned on its website that this had become a major international public health concern in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
Kenya is classified as a tropical region which puts it at risk.
“Not only is the number of cases increasing as the disease spreads to new areas, but explosive outbreaks are occurring,” says WHO.
The global health body says the incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades with over 2.5 billion people at risk of the virus. This translates to 40 percent of world’s population.
WHO currently estimates that there may be about 100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.
“The dengue virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female mosquitoes,” says the Global health body.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is said to be the primary vector of dengue. After virus incubation for four to 10 days, an infected mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus for the rest of its life.
“Infected humans are the main carriers and multipliers of the virus, serving as a source of the virus for uninfected mosquitoes,” it goes on to caution.
WHO adds that patients who are already infected with the dengue virus can transmit the infection five days through the Aedes mosquito, five days after (maximum 12 days) their first symptoms appear.
Dengue fever is described as a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death.
Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C) is accompanied by two of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.
Symptoms usually last for two to seven days following an incubation period of four to 10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito.
However, severe dengue is potentially deadly and can cause complication and risk of death.
The warning signs occur three to seven days after the first symptoms and a decrease in temperature is recorded (below 38°C). This comes with severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit.
There is no specific treatment or vaccine for dengue fever and maintenance of the patient’s body fluid volume is critical to severe dengue care.
“At present, the only method to control or prevent the transmission of dengue virus is to combat vector mosquitoes,” says WHO.