Taiwan first began formal reporting of dengue fever in 1981 and up till now, 2014 saw the most cases with 15,732. However, on Thursday the Taiwan CDC put the dengue tally at 16,074 making 2015 a record year for the mosquito borne infection on the island.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

In addition, health officials now put the death toll at 42, double of that seen in 2014, with dozens more under investigation.

Tainan City has recorded 13,960 cases since May 1 and Kaohsiung has seen 1,858, accounting for 98.4 percent of cases nationally.

Why the increases in dengue fever this year? According to Taiwan CDC deputy director, Chuang Jen-hsiang, its the hot weather. “This year saw temperatures in Tainan and (the southern region of) Kaohsiung at their highest in 30 years,” he told the AFP.

Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease was once called called “break-bone fever” because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking.

Dengue fever of multiple types is found in most countries of the tropics and subtropics particularly during and after rainy season.

There are four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4.

People get the dengue virus from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It is not contagious from person to person.

There are three types of dengue fever in order of less severe to most: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

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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