Dengue is the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease and represents a "pandemic threat", infecting an estimated 50 million people across all continents, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated recently.
Transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes, the disease is occurring more widely due to increased movement of people and goods — including carrier objects such as bamboo plants and used tires — as well as floods linked to climate change. The viral disease, which affected only a handful of areas in the 1950s, is now present in more than 125 countries — significantly more than malaria, historically the most notorious mosquito-borne disease.
The most advanced vaccine against dengue is only 30% effective, trials last year showed.
"In 2012, dengue ranked as the fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease with an epidemic potential in the world, registering a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the past 50 years," the WHO said in a statement.
Dengue causes flu-like symptoms that subside in a few days in some sufferers. But the severe form of the disease requires hospitalisation for complications, including severe bleeding, that may be lethal.
There is no specific treatment but early detection and access to proper medical care lowers fatality rates below 1%, according WHO.