A World Mosquito Program project staff member hangs a mosquito-box from a tree in Colombo, Sri Lanka. | WORLD MOSQUITO PROGRAM
- BY ALEX JACKSON Jun 16, 2022
For Kasun Chameera, who lives in Sri Lanka’s densely populated capital Colombo, dengue fever is a disease which has afflicted many loved ones, including his brother.
“We fear death when we hear about dengue,” Chameera said. “It’s present almost everywhere in my district, and spreads faster in the city than in the villages.”
His brother “suffered a lot from it,” Chameera said. “For at least one to two months, he would be tired walking just 10 steps. We were very scared.”
Also known as breakbone fever because of the severe pain it can cause, the disease is a growing threat across Asia, where 70% of the world’s dengue cases occur. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of the female aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which thrive in both tropical and subtropical urban areas.
Worldwide, it is estimated to infect about 390 million people every year, with more than half of the global population now at risk.
Recent weeks have seen soaring cases in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, despite the peak season usually lasting from June to October. Reported cases in Singapore topped the 10,000 mark in the first five months of this year, already exceeding the 5,258 cases reported in all of 2021.
In Japan, 461 cases were reported in 2019 — mainly found in travelers from Asian countries. But with the borders effectively closed during the pandemic, the number of cases dropped to 43 and eight in 2020 and 2021, respectively.