WHO Issues Global Alert Over ‘Unprecedented’ Rise In Highly Infectious, Potentially Deadly Disease

(Photo by Narinder NANU / AFP) (Photo by NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

The World Health Organization (WHO) sent a global outbreak alert Thursday over rising cases of dengue fever.

Cases of the disease have surged ten-fold in an “alarming increase” from roughly 500,000 cases to 5.2 million around the world, in what WHO called an “unprecedented peak.” Some 129 cases have been reported, close to a “historic high,” with a majority of infections having occurred within the Americas, according to the WHO.

There was a slight dip in the number of cases reported during the COVID-19 pandemic, but apparently the spread started in 2019 and surged again throughout 2023. WHO said the El Niño weather phenomenon during 2023 may have increased the spread through shifting precipitation patterns. “Fragile health systems” following the COVID-19 pandemic may have also contributed to the outbreak, WHO added.

Dengue is transmitted to humans via infected mosquitos, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. Most cases are asymptomatic or result in a mild illness, but some develop into shock, severe bleeding, organ impairment and death, WHO noted. (RELATED: World Health Organization Warns Of Large Anthrax Outbreak)

Over 100,000 people were infected with dengue in Peru by June of 2023, with more than 200 people dying. The country issued a state of emergency over the outbreak, and mass fumigation campaigns were launched to try and eradicate mosquitoes from stagnant water sources throughout the region. In the U.S., at least 225 cases were reported by August, with Florida hosting a majority of patients.