The number of dengue fever cases and dengue-related fatalities in Malaysia continue to rise as the Asian country now reports as of 21 November, 107,079 cases of dengue with 293 deaths reported in Malaysia for 2015.

Dengue symptoms/Malaysia Health Ministry
Dengue symptoms/Malaysia Health Ministry

This is 17.7% higher compared with the same reporting period of 2014 (n=91,002).

In fact, other than 2014, when the case tally in Malaysia eclipsed the 100,000 mark, dengue in Malaysia has not been more than 50,000 cases in the past 20 years, according to Malaysia Health Ministry data.

The number of deaths reported so far in 2015, is significantly higher than what health officials reported in the whole of 2014 (215). In fact, the average dengue-related deaths from 2005-2013 was 89 in Malaysia.

According to the World Health Organization, Dengue is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with one of the four dengue virus serotypes. It is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults with symptoms appearing 3-14 days after the infective bite.

Dengue is not transmitted directly from person-to-person and symptoms range from mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There is no vaccine or any specificmedicine to treat dengue. People who have dengue fever should rest, drink plenty of fluids and reduce the fever using paracetamol or see a doctor.

Severe dengue (also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) is characterized by fever, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding and breathing difficulty and is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by trained physicians and nurses increase survival of patients.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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