ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Progress against dengue
In Southeast Asia dengue fever can be a killer.
The mosquito-borne disease, which heretofore has been untreatable, causes a flu-like illness that lasts about a week but can be lethal. In 2010 in Thailand, for example, more than 115,000 people were infected and 141 died from dengue fever, many of them young people, according to the Thai government.
The disease has four strains with one of the four strains being lethal This week, the good news about this sometimes deadly disease was that researchers from Thailand's Chiang Mai University, Mahidol University and the government's National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology had developed a prototype vaccine, containing all four strains, to protect children against the disease. This was a first-time occurrence for Thailand.
The researchers have reached an agreement with a private Thai firm, BioNet-Asia, that will develop the vaccine further to have it available within 10 years.
In tropical nations that have much more mild winters than in the northern hemisphere, mosquitoes thrive and pose a universal health risk. Dengue fever is one of the many diseases that are carried by mosquitoes, the most notable being malaria.
The Gates Foundation has undertaken major funding to combat the disease. There are 250 million malaria cases and nearly 1 million deaths each year from the disease.
Mosquito-borne diseases often strike the poor in Asia due to unsanitary conditions and the greater prevalence of mosquitoes in poor neighborhoods.
In a world filled with mostly bad news this week, the advances in controlling dengue fever provide an upbeat note to the Asia-Pacific region at midweek.
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