Just a day after hearing Thailand health officials say that the dengue situation there is expected to spike in 2016, Malaysian health officials are expressing the same concern.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

After reporting a record dengue season in 2015 with more than 120,000 cases, health officials in Malaysia are reporting nearly 6,000 cases in just the first two weeks (5,835), including 3 deaths.

In fact, Thursday alone saw 583 dengue fever cases, half in Selangor state.

Officials with the health ministry are saying the dengue situation will likely be fueled by the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to worsen the dengue epidemic by as much as 50 per cent.

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, “The El Nino phenomenon will have an impact on the habits of people and mosquitoes. We expect it to cause cases to increase by 50 per cent.”

According to the US NOAA, El Niño means The Little Boy, or Christ Child in Spanish. El Niño was originally recognized by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. The name was chosen based on the time of year (around December) during which these warm waters events tended to occur.

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has a history of worsening infectious diseases including influenza epidemics, plague and hantavirus increases, in addition to mosquito borne infectious diseases.