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Philippines worried by dengue figures

The Philippines is having to deal with a severe outbreak of dengue fever.

Health authorities have declared a “national dengue alert” after a spike in cases of the viral disease which has left more than 450 people dead since January. Around 100,000 dengue cases were reported across the Philippines in the first six months of 2019, an increase of 85 percent on the same period last year. Epidemics have been declared in four regions of the country - Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Northern Mindanao - which between them are home to more than 20 million people, or roughly 20 percent of the Philippines population.

Health officials are also monitoring the situation in nine other regions, including Davao, the home province of Philippines President Roderigo Duterte, but said dengue remains “localized” rather than a national epidemic.

A mosquito-borne viral infection, dengue causes flu-like symptoms, including piercing headaches, muscle and joint pains, fever and full body rashes. Of the millions of people infected with dengue every year worldwide, an estimated 500,000 develop severe symptoms requiring hospitalization, and of those some 12,500 people die, according to the World Health Organization.

While it is most common in tropical and sub-tropical climates such as the Philippines, India and Brazil, a recent study found that rising global temperatures caused by the climate crisis could see mosquitoes which carry dengue -- along with other diseases such as chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika -- move north, affecting the southern United States, inland Australia and coastal areas of China and Japan.

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