Watch out for dengue, malaria, pub­lic told

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China’s top health author­ity has is­sued a pub­lic alert for dengue fever and malaria, which pose a risk to more than half the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

The alert was an­nounced at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day by the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion to mark World Health Day, which is cel­e­brated on Mon­day, the an­niver­sary of the found­ing of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion in 1948.

The com­mis­sion’s fo­cus this year is on pathogens and par­a­sites that spread via cer­tain “vec­tors”, or paths — via mos­qui­toes, sand­flies and ticks — or from one in­fected an­i­mal to an­other, in­clud­ing hu­mans. Be­sides dengue fever and malaria, bubonic plague and epi­demic en­cephali­tis B are con­cerns.

“Dengue, in par­tic­u­lar, poses se­ri­ous health chal­lenges for the pub­lic, and in­creas­ing re­gional and global trans­mit­tal in re­cent years has made in­ter­ven­tion ef­forts even harder,” said Zhang Yong, deputy di­rec­tor of the com­mis­sion’s dis­ease preven­tion and con­trol bureau.

Last month, eight im­ported dengue cases were de­tected among a group of 28 Chi­nese re­turn­ing to Chongqing from a trip to In­done­sia and Sin­ga­pore, ac­cord­ing to the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Qual­ity Su­per­vi­sion, In­spec­tion and Quar­an­tine.

World­wide, dengue is the fastest grow­ing vec­tor-borne dis­ease, hav­ing recorded a 30-fold in­crease in the num­ber of cases in 50 years, ac­cord­ing to the WHO.

More than 40 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is now at risk from dengue and there are about 100 mil­lion cases each year world­wide, the WHO es­ti­mates.

In China, dengue has been mainly de­tected in the south­east costal and south­west ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Liu Qiy­ong, a se­nior specialist at the Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

The cen­ter has be­gun mon­i­tor­ing ma­jor vec­tor-borne dis­eases in 19 prov­inces.

In gen­eral, they have been de­clin­ing, said Liu, cit­ing con­stant ef­forts to curb epi­demics.

How­ever, emerg­ing chal­lenges in re­cent years have made the fight against them more com­pli­cated, he said — fac­tors such as glob­al­iza­tion, cli­mate change and the gap be­tween quick ur­ban­iza­tion and a limited sup­ply of pub­lic health ser­vices.

The an­nual num­ber of im­ported dis­eases, par­tic­u­larly dengue and malaria, that are in­ter­cepted by the au­thor­i­ties has been ris­ing, of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics show.

No­tably, im­ported malaria cases ac­counted for more than 90 per­cent of the re­ported to­tal in 2013.

In ad­di­tion, global warm­ing has ex­panded the tra­di­tional habi­tat of the types of mos­qui­toes that carry and spread in­fec­tions, putting more people at risk of con­tract­ing dengue fever, he said.

Worse, blank ar­eas re­main in the cen­ter’s cur­rent mon­i­tor­ing ef­forts, so it can be hard to as­sess risks, pro­vide alerts and make timely and ac­cu­rately in­ter­ven­tion plans, he said.

More­over, pub­lic aware­ness needs to be im­proved, he said.

In­di­vid­u­als trav­el­ing to in­fected ar­eas or coun­tries should take pre­cau­tions against in­fec­tion to avoid bring­ing the in­fec­tions home, he said.

At State level, ef­fec­tive in­ter­ven­tion re­quires cross-bor­der co­op­er­a­tion, he said.

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