When Worlds Collide #103: Combating Dengue, a ‘Silent Disaster’

When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today broadsheet newspaper on 18 April 2014

Small Bite, Big ThreatThe theme for World Health Day, observed on April 7, was vector-borne diseases – a major public health challenge in the tropics. It was packaged under the slogan: Small Bite, Big Threat.

Vectors are small creatures which carry serious diseases. As the World Health Organisation (WHO) noted, globalization of trade and travel, and trends such as climate change and urbanization, all impact on how vector-borne diseases spread. Some vectors have started turning up in countries where they were previously unknown.

Formidable among them is the mosquito. Different species spread a number of infectious diseases: malaria, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, chikungunya, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever.

In terms of deaths caused, malaria is the most deadly: in 2010, it killed an estimated 660,000, mostly African children. But the world’s fastest growing vector-borne disease is

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