The World Health Organization has issued a warning that cases of dengue fever are on the rise and could potentially reach near-record highs this year. The increasing rates of the disease are attributed, in part, to global warming, which has facilitated the spread of mosquitoes responsible for transmitting the virus. Dengue fever has become a significant global health threat, affecting millions of people annually and prompting international concerns. As international travelers seek protection against this infectious disease, they face challenges due to the voluntary withdrawal of a dengue vaccine candidate in the United States.
Growing Dengue Fever Cases
Since 2000, reported cases of dengue fever have increased eight-fold, reaching 4.2 million in 2022. The disease is surging worldwide, with European countries witnessing a surge in cases, and Peru declaring a state of emergency in several regions. The virus is thriving in urban areas, even in historically non-endemic regions, and health experts attribute this phenomenon to rising temperatures and increased rainfall caused by climate change.
Delay in Dengue Vaccine Approval
International travelers in the United States seeking protection against dengue fever through vaccination will need to wait longer. Takeda, a Japanese drug-maker, voluntarily withdrew its application for a dengue vaccine candidate from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the agency requested additional data that the current trial could not provide. While the vaccine is approved in various endemic and non-endemic regions, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, and Thailand, its absence in the U.S. poses challenges for travelers seeking immunity.
Understanding Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is caused by four different viruses transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is active during the day. Symptoms usually appear within two weeks after exposure and may include fever, joint pain, headaches, and rashes. The disease has three phases: the fever phase, critical phase, and recovery phase. In severe cases, complications can arise, leading to a life-threatening condition called dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Warning Signs and Prevention
Early detection of warning signs such as abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, fluid accumulation in body spaces, and bleeding increases the likelihood of timely medical intervention and recovery. Dengue fever is the leading cause of fever among returning travelers to Europe from all continents except Africa. International travelers must take preventive measures, such as using mosquito repellents and wearing protective clothing, especially when visiting countries with hot, humid climates.
As cases of dengue fever surge globally, health authorities emphasize the importance of understanding the disease’s symptoms and warning signs for timely intervention. The voluntary withdrawal of a dengue vaccine candidate in the U.S. poses challenges for international travelers seeking protection. Implementing preventive measures and closely monitoring symptoms can help mitigate the impact of dengue fever, a significant tropical infectious disease.