The Heat Is Online

Warming Spreads Dengue Throughout Indonesia

Global Warming Sends Dengue Fever Cases in Indonesia Soaring

Associated Press, July 27, 2007


JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia is on course for some 200,000 dengue fever infections this year, twice last year's total, a top health official said Thursday, adding the jump may be in part due to global warming.

The country has so far this year logged over 100,000 cases of the mosquito-borne disease -- 1,100 of them fatal, said a senior Health Ministry official, Nyoman Kandun. Last year, there were 114,000 recorded cases, with 1,100 fatalities, he said.

Dengue, which is endemic in Southeast Asia, causes joint pain, high fevers, nausea and rashes. In severe cases, it results in internal bleeding and death.

Kandun said rising temperatures due to global warming had allowed mosquitoes to thrive in high altitude areas previously too cold for them. He said this may have accounted for increased cases of dengue in elevated areas in west Java.

"But this global warming correlation needs to be proven through scientific research," he said.

Health officials say the best way to halt the spread of the disease is to stop mosquitoes from breeding by clearing up junk from neighborhoods. The insects can breed in tiny pools of water found in flower pots, discarded bottles or cans, or old tires.

The World Health Organization has warned that Southeast Asia may be heading for a major dengue outbreak, as the disease has arrived earlier than usual and already caused hundreds of deaths in the region.

Dengue is now endemic in at least 100 countries. About 40 percent of the world's population, or about 2.5 billion people, are at risk throughout the tropics and subtropics, the World Health Organization said.

Although intense efforts are under way to develop a vaccine, there currently is no vaccine to prevent dengue nor are there any effective antiviral drugs to treat the disease.