Marine insurer Gard has noted that, after a fall in the number of dengue cases in 2017-18, 2019 had seen a sharp increase. Countries in South America and South-East Asia were currently the most seriously affected.
Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and can be life-threatening. It causes flu-like symptoms and can develop into a potentially lethal complication called ‘severe dengue’. Dengue flourishes in poor urban areas, suburbs and the countryside but can also affect more affluent neighbourhoods in tropical and subtropical countries. The infection rates are higher outdoors and during daytime.
There is no vaccination for dengue, and the best way to prevent it is to protect against mosquito bites.
Shipowners and operators with vessels trading to countries with ongoing dengue transmission were advised to ensure that crews were aware of the risks and were able to deal with the various challenges that this disease can bring.
The incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the past 50 years, according to WHO figures. Before 1970, only nine countries had seen severe dengue epidemics. Now, as many as to 50m to 100m infections were estimated to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries, putting almost half of the world’s population at risk.
Explosive outbreaks are on the increase. According to a report issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in September 2019, countries such as Brazil, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam have experienced substantial increases in the number of dengue cases compared to the same time period in 2018. WHO has also reported of dengue outbreaks in Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania. It noted that the threat of a possible outbreak of dengue fever now existed in Europe. Three locally acquired cases of dengue have been reported in France and Spain. However, the ECDC considers the likelihood of further local sustained transmission in France and Spain to be low, as environmental conditions become progressively less suitable for transmission during autumn.