COVID-19 Prevention Efforts Are Hampering Dengue Fever Efforts

COVID-19 Prevention Efforts Are Hampering Dengue Fever Efforts
Southeast Asia, Brazil particularly hard hit as dengue fever prevention funding is redirected to fighting COVID-19.

As governments around the world have taken steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, typical efforts to stop dengue fever have gotten lost in the shuffle.

Dengue fever — a debilitating disease transmitted by mosquitoes — has seen "exploding numbers" in some areas recently, including Southeast Asia and South America. First-time victims report flu-like symptoms and sometimes there no symptoms at all. The second time, it can be a different story — excruciating headaches, joint pain and even death.

Money that would usually be used to fight dengue by destroying mosquito breeding sites and large-scale disinfection has been redirected in some places to fighting the coronavirus.

Some experts are concerned that the overlapping outbreaks could overwhelm already-strained health care systems.

Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines have been particularly hard hit and in South America, Brazil has counted over a million dengue cases with almost 400 deaths this year. and Paraguay over 200,000 cases.

Singapore said last week it'll likely beat its annual record of 22,000 dengue cases. A five-fold increase in mosquito larvae was recorded during the two-month coronavirus lockdown.

Additional reporting from Victoria Milko and Aniruddha Ghosal of the Associated Press.