It’s probably something you’ve written off as you don’t hear about it in the states: Dengue Fever. A virus that causes horrific symptoms that have no formal treatment other than some TLC.
But it now threatens half the world’s population, and is spreading wildly. Both Europe and South America have outbreaks currently, and experts say there’s no tropical country not infected, so it’s just a vacation away. What’s more, you may remember that West Nile Virus started out as a tropical disease, so while you may not venture to the tropics often, it’s a safe bet that eventually the virus will come to you.
Spread by mosquitoes (just like West Nile), there are four strains of Dengue Fever. While getting one gives you immunity to that strain, it puts you more at risk for having a severe reaction to the other three.
Dengue Fever symptoms are flu-like, but worse. That malaise you feel with the flu? The muscle and joint pain associated with Dengue Fever is so severe that it’s also known as “Breakbone Fever”. Most people will have a fever, headache, and skin rash, but a small percentage will have severe symptoms, and Dengue Fever can even be fatal (especially in children).
Given how fast Dengue Fever has travelled the world (via mosquito) in the last 50 years, and that our increasingly dense population is only aiding things (and presumably there’s something to be said for global warming creating more natural habitats for the mosquito as well as mild winters helping all mosquitoes boom, as we saw last summer), you can bet that within a decade or two Dengue Fever will be a local problem, wherever you are.
What do you think of all these viruses, each bordering on their own pandemic?