I’ve learned a lot as an intern with Google.org’s health efforts the last few months. Just this week I learned about a new collaboration between Google.org grantee HealthMap - the same group mentioned in our previous post Swine flu near you? - and the Dengue Branch of the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). They’ve created DengueMap to show recent reports of dengue around the world and regions where people are at risk to catch it. The reports on DengueMap are updated multiple times a day, keeping you up-to-date on where dengue is.
One week ago, I barely knew a thing about dengue. It turns out 2.5 billion people around the world are at risk of contracting dengue, and 50 to 100 million people get sick from it every year. Dengue is present in more than 100 countries, and dengue is on the rise in many parts of the world. This even includes the US. According to the CDC, there have been 28 cases where people caught dengue in Florida since 2009. While this doesn’t sound like a lot of cases, it’s somewhat alarming given that there were only a handful of cases ever recorded before 2009.
Dengue thrives in both cities and rural areas of the tropics and subtropics and is caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. The symptoms are similar to a severe flu, and can be quite painful. There is no cure and no vaccine. Fortunately, dengue rarely causes death, though severe complications, like dengue hemorrhagic fever, can be lethal.
The bottom line? Be smart about protecting yourself from dengue. Know the areas where dengue is present (DengueMap is helpful for this) and wear bug spray.
For more info on dengue visit the CDC Dengue Branch page.
Posted by Rachael Holmes, Google.org intern