Monday, February 1, 2010

Dengue and climate change

Gloria Ramos has a personal tale of a brush with dengue fever, from the Cebu Daily News (Philippines): World Health Organization Chief Margaret Chan was disappointed that there was no deal made during the December Copenhagen Summit. She is well aware that health problems will be magnified under climate change.

In 2008, WHO warned that climate change was increasing the incidence of dengue fever and other infectious diseases in the country. That year, Health Secretary Francisco Duque cautioned that global warming may have contributed to a 43 percent rise in the number of dengue cases in the Philippines for the first half of the year. He noted that "The increase in the number of dengue cases may be attributed to the constantly changing climate brought by global warming as well as congestion in urban areas". (

In 2009, the Department of Health (DOH) Regional Epidemiological Surveillance Unit reported a 42 percent rise in dengue cases in the region compared to the same period of January to October last year (Cebu Daily News (November 04, 2009) . The upsurge in dengue is one of the clearest manifestations of climate change. In the past, dengue peaked only during the rainy season. However, the unpredictable weather condition brought about by climate change has made the deadly disease a year-round occurrence in our country.

It is dumbfounding also to know that the virus brought by the Aedes aegypti, the dengue-carrying mosquito, has mutated. The disease no longer follows a regular predictable pattern. The patients have different symptoms and responses. Being unpredictable, dengue can be treacherous. There is as yet no definite cure for it, although drinking mangagaw tea is a popular alternative healing practice in Cebu….

Female Aedes aegypti mosquito (main vector for dengue fever) as she was in the process of obtaining a "blood meal," shot by James Gathany

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