The symptoms can be similar to a bad case of the flu — high fever, bad headache, muscle and joint pain.
As of October 2, more than 4.2 million cases of dengue fever have been reported this year and over 3,000 deaths.
Traditionally, dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquito bites, has been mostly seen in tropical and subtropical countries. But the Earth’s rising temperatures make it a possible major threat to parts of the United States, Africa, and Europe over the next decade, health experts say.
“We need to talk much more proactively about dengue,” Jeremy Farrar, an infectious diseases specialist with the World Health Organization, told EuroNews.green. “We need to really prepare countries for how they will deal with the additional pressure that will come … in the future in many, many big cities.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine says “about half of the world's population is now at risk for this dengue.”
Bangladesh is currently experiencing its worst-ever outbreak, with more than 1,000 deaths, CNN reports.
But overall, South and Central America have been hardest hit since August, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a European Union agency.
Dengue fever “is definitely not a disease one would want to get, considering the enormous physical, mental and emotional toll it can take on you,” writes a woman on the Indian Godrej Hit website. “The recovery period after dengue fever can be quite long drawn.”
She notes, “For adults it can take from weeks to months to feel normal. I was drained of all my energy and even the slightest exertion would render me breathless. My little boy would look at me with his little eyes brimming with worry and concern, seeing me listless and tired most of the time.”
Dengue fever has been referred to as “break-bone fever” due to muscle spasms and joint pain caused.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 5% of people infected develop a severe case of the disease, and less than 1% of cases overall are fatal.
How Can You Avoid Dengue Fever?
There is a vaccine available, but it is only recommended for children 9 through 16 years old, who have been previously infected with dengue and living in areas where dengue is common.
For the rest of the population, using a DEET insect repellant on skin and clothes or staying in screened or air-conditioned areas, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is the best option in trying to avoid the disease.
How about Dengue fever in winter?
“Both the literature and the present experimental data indicate that a cold winter may not be the preventing factor for the re-establishment of the dengue vector in southern Europe,” a 2020 study published in the scientific journal Parasit Vectors notes.