During the previous year, Malaysia saw an average of a hair more than 300 dengue fever cases daily as the Southeast Asian country reported in excess of 120,000 cases in 2015, the highest number this decade.

Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC
Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC

Dengue fever is out of the gate running in Malaysia during the first days of 2016. Nearly 12,000 cases have been reported since the beginning of the year, producing an average of more than 500 cases a day.

Twenty-three dengue related fatalities have been reported to date.

Many fingers are pointing at El Nino, which has caused a warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific Ocean which affects rainfall patterns and temperatures in many parts of the world but most intensely in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.

“From Ethiopia to Haiti to Papua New Guinea, we are seeing the damage from El Niño, and we believe the impact on public health is likely to continue throughout 2016, even after El Niño winds down,” said Dr Richard Brennan, Director of WHO’s Emergency Risk Management & Humanitarian Response Department. “To prevent unnecessary deaths and illnesses, governments must invest now in strengthening their preparedness and response efforts.”

Dengue cases have seen increases in other countries of Southeast Asia.