This week in the Global Post, Dr. Fred Were, a pediatrician and specialist in neonatal medicine and National Chairman of the Kenya Pediatric Association (KPA), wrote about the dengue outbreak that swept his country in October. Dr. Were highlighted the lack of surveillance of dengue cases, and the underreporting that this is causing across the world:
In my own country of Kenya there is a rash of dengue fever in Mandera mushrooming rapidly and overwhelming healthcare systems, with at least 5,000 cases reported and 10 deaths since the epidemic started in early September. And the problem isn’t just in Kenya. Pakistan is reeling from its own epidemic, a particularly acute outbreak of dengue fever that has killed over 60 people, with more than 8,000 cases to date. And more dengue cases have been reported this year in the Bahamas than in any seasonal outbreak in their history, with more than 1,500 confirmed cases this year.
...While dengue is known to be endemic throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, its exact toll has been unknown, largely because effective disease surveillance systems are not in place to accurately track the disease, and its symptoms are commonly misdiagnosed as other febrile illnesses like malaria. Despite poor surveillance for dengue in Africa, however, it is clear that epidemic dengue fever caused by all four serotypes has increased dramatically.A member of the Dengue Vaccine Initiative (DVI), Dr. Were highlights the work DVI is doing to prepare for the introduction of dengue vaccines:
Vaccines have been widely touted as public health best buys. A pipeline of dengue vaccine candidates currently exists, and a viable dengue vaccine could be available as early as 2015, providing a much needed public health intervention for this growing, worldwide threat. Countries should start preparing now for a vaccine once licensed, and international groups like the Dengue Vaccine Initiative are working to help them lay this important groundwork.
You can read the full article in the Global Post here. Also, be sure to follow the DVI mini-blog series, "Delivering a dengue vaccine", which is telling the story of how DVI consortium members will help make a dengue vaccine available decades sooner than anti-poverty vaccines are usually expected to be introduced. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.