After reporting more than 200,000 dengue fever cases and 600 deaths during 2015, the Philippines has recorded nearly 13,000 cases during the first five weeks of this year, according to the latest data from the Western Pacific Regional Office (WRPO).

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

As of Feb. 6, there were 12,904 suspected cases of dengue reported in 2016, including 49 deaths. This is slightly higher than that reported during the same period in 2015 when 12,766 cases were reported.

Dengue is an important arboviral infection that continues to cause a substantial public health burden in Asia and the Pacific.

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.

Related: Dengvaxia now available in the Philippines: Sanofi Pasteur

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.

In the past 50 years, the incidence of dengue worldwide has increased 30-fold, largely as a consequence of the growth of cities and increased travel.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. However,there was 2013 research from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust, using cartographic approaches, estimate there to be 390 million dengue infections per year worldwide.