To many of us, dengue seems like a distant disease, something that affects other people, in other places. But that’s not true.
We travel more than we ever have before. Whether we’re sent across the globe for business or we jump on a plane in search of some winter sunshine, the world has become a much smaller place.
Dengue is present in over 100 countries. And as long-distance travel becomes easier, it also becomes easier for tourists to bring an unwanted souvenir home with them: a dengue infection.
Research in Australia has found that the number of dengue patients who catch the pokies online disease when abroad is escalating. In 2005-2006, infections of dengue acquired overseas stood at 156; by 2009-2010 this figure had climbed to 581. The researchers expected that 2012 would see the largest number on record of cases of dengue acquired overseas. Imported cases of dengue – of all four serotypes – represented 23% of all cases between 1991 and 1999; by 2000-2012, this figure reached 64%.
And it’s not just in Australia. In the UK, Public Health England has called for travelers to take extra care when abroad. It reported that imported cases of dengue in 2012 were up more than 50% on 2011. What’s more, cases reported in the first four months of 2013 are three times as many as in the same period in 2012.
These figures are a reminder that dengue is a global disease and demands a global response.