In despite of the bird flu outbreak in South East Asia the real killers are mosquitos which carry dengue fever.
In recent months a large scale epidemic has hit Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia and even the rich and super clean Singapore, where 11,000 cases have been reported.The illness, for which there is no vaccination and no effective treatment, can be transmitted by two types of mosquitos living both in the country-side and in the cities.
'Aedes aegypti' and 'Aedes albopictus' are difficult scientific Latin names to remember, but the local population has come to know them, as they are used non-stop by TV and local newspapers.
Malaysia was the last country to declare a dengue state of emergency. Kuala Lumpur reports 28,592 infected people, 1,480 of which in the form that can result in death. The victims in the country total 73.
“The epidemic is reaching its peak. The situation might last several weeks,” Ramlee Rahmat, from the Malaysian health ministry, told the New Strait Times, confirming more than 1000 new hospitalisations in recent days.
The situation is even worse in neighbouring Singapore where, paradoxically the extreme cleanness may have helped the disease spread.
In Indonesia, in mid September, there were reports of 650 victims and 48,000 infected people. Last year the victims were 800 and the cases 80,000.
At the end of summer, in Thailand the victims were 50 with more than 31,000 cases. In the Philippines the mosquitoes had infected 19,000 people, killing 259. In Vietnam, 22 victims and 38 in Cambodia. The actual figures could be sensibly higher.
According to the World Health Organisation dengue is endemic in 100 countries and each year some 50 million are struck by the virus, AKI reports.