Chad’s Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday that an outbreak of dengue fever had emerged in the eastern part of the country at the beginning of August. Dengue fever is a viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes, with severe forms that are rare but can be fatal.
In a statement shared with AFP, Abdermadjid Abderahim Mahamat, the Minister of Health, stated, “The Ministry of Public Health and Prevention informs the public of the outbreak of an epidemic of dengue fever in the health district of Abéché,” which is the capital of the Ouaddaï region located around 650km east of Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.
Although samples collected and analyzed on August 7th confirmed the presence of the epidemic, the ministry has not yet reported any fatalities, according to information provided to AFP.
Dengue fever is spread through the bite of mosquitoes carrying the virus and is prevalent in warm countries, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the virus causes between 100 and 400 million infections annually. Symptoms of dengue fever can include high fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and, in severe cases, bleeding that can lead to death.
Dengue fever is a prevalent viral infection in tropical and subtropical areas, transmitted by mosquitoes. A significant resurgence of epidemic dengue has occurred across the tropics, raising concern about the emergence of a life-threatening complication known as dengue haemorrhagic fever.
Multiple factors contribute to this resurgence of dengue fever, including:
- Rapid demographic changes on a global scale have led to uncontrolled urban growth and population expansion in certain regions. This has resulted in insufficient access to proper housing, leading to poor sanitation and inadequate management of sewage and waste systems. The mosquito responsible for transmitting the dengue virus breeds in water containers within walls, and the lack of maintenance of clean water supplies in densely populated urban areas has led to a rise in mosquito populations.
- Financial constraints and limited human resources pose challenges in implementing emergency control measures during dengue outbreaks, hindering efforts to prevent its spread.
- In the continental United States, dengue fever is infrequent, and surveillance of the infection is passive, relying on reports from doctors to detect cases.
- International air travel to regions where the infection is rampant contributes to the cross-border transportation of the disease. Individuals can contract the infection in tropical regions and then spread it to areas with lower infection rates.
- Endemic regions often lack effective mosquito control measures, further facilitating the transmission of the infection.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recognizes dengue fever as a public health threat. The institute funds more than 60 research projects focused on studying the severe complications of the illness, including dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. NIAID also supports research into the development of vaccines against the virus.