What is dengue, and why is it so widespread this year?

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Dengue is mostly found in crowded areas, and breakneck urbanisation across the globe has helped the virus thrive.

Dubbed"breakbone fever", dengue is one of the world's leading mosquito-borne illnesses and infects tens of millions across the globe annually.

Infections have steadily climbed across the globe since the 1970s due to rising temperatures and irregular monsoon rains linked to climate change, which allow for ideal mosquito breeding conditions. "When you have a drought, people collect water in containers. That is one place the dengue mosquito loves to breed," said Gawrie Loku Galappaththy, a dengue specialist with the World Health Organization in the Philippines.Its grim nickname comes from the disease's intense flu-like symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, full-body aches, high fever, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.

With no known treatment for dengue, doctors can only help to ease the virus' brutal symptoms, which can last weeks and often renders patients completely immobile.Once confined mostly to cities in tropical climates, dengue is now found in at least 125 countries across the world, with around 100 million infected every year and some four billion people living in dengue-prone areas, according to the journal Nature Microbiology.

 

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