Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Bangladeshi and Canadian researchers to stem transmission and deaths from dengue fever

Funded by the International Development Research Centre, their goal is to understand how dengue is transmitted in the city, focusing on — health, the environment and climate, human behaviour, and urban planning, among others. This knowledge is critical for preventing the spread of the mosquito vector and controlling the virus.

No specific treatment exists for a serious mosquito-borne disease that is sweeping into new parts of the globe. Nor are there any vaccines to prevent infection in the first place.

Combating the disease — dengue — largely depends on controlling the mosquitoes that spread it. To that end, a Canadian-funded effort to stem transmission and deaths from dengue in one hot spot for the disease in Bangladesh could help communities worldwide develop strategies to fend it off.

Dengue is a growing global public health concern. Before 1970, severe dengue epidemics had been recorded in only nine countries. Now the disease is endemic in more than 100 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The World Health Organization reports that half of the world’s population is at risk. Hundreds of thousands of severe cases and more than 20,000 deaths occur annually.

Dengue is caused by any one of four viruses transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. These mosquitoes were originally found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, but now exist on all continents except Antarctica. They have caused outbreaks of dengue in the southern United States, and been seen as far north as New York and Chicago.

While dengue exists in both rural and urban areas, city dwellers are most at risk. The mosquito disease-carriers reproduce in standing water, which is common wherever people store water at home for drinking and bathing purposes. The rapid growth of cities in tropical countries has led to overcrowding, allowing more dengue-carrying mosquitoes to live closer to more people.

Because of poor knowledge about dengue transmission and lax regulations, construction sites in the booming cities offer ideal breeding grounds. Uncollected garbage also poses a danger, as discarded plastic packaging, tires, and other containers allow water to accumulate and remain stagnant for days. And if there’s no water for hatching, mosquito eggs can survive in dry conditions for more than year.

Humans help spread the virus in other ways — for example, by shipping tires and other containers to faraway places. Increased air travel means the virus can readily travel with its human host to new and distant locations.

Fighting dengue is an uphill battle, made difficult in many areas by weak surveillance systems, inadequate public health services, and a lack of resources to control the mosquito vectors. A more fundamental problem is that little is known about disease transmission dynamics — how changes in land use, in population, climate, pathogen evolution, and international travel and trade can trigger or exacerbate the spread of the disease.

All these factors are at play in the major cities of Bangladesh. The capital, Dhaka, with a population of 17 million, has experienced repeated devastating outbreaks of the severe form of dengue in recent years. But poor public health infrastructure and a lack of resources mean this poor, rapidly growing city lacks even basic knowledge about how much dengue there is, what strains are circulating, and where and when the infected mosquitoes are to be found.

That could soon change thanks to research being carried out by Bangladeshi and Canadian researchers, funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

The team brings together Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with strong scientific organizations (North South University, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh and Jahangirnagar University in Bangladesh with the University of Manitoba and the Public Health Agency of Canada). Also participating are a civil society organization with presence and credibility in city slums, and city ward governments.
Their goal, simply put, is to better understand how dengue is transmitted in the city, focusing on many factors — health, the environment and climate, human behaviour, and urban planning, among others. This knowledge is critical for preventing the spread of the mosquito vector and controlling the virus.

That knowledge can then lead to more strategic investments in public health and healthier working and living environments. Good working relationships between community groups and government agencies will help ensure that solutions work well in the affected areas of the city. Dhaka’s experience and new knowledge gained could also benefit other cities and regions facing similar problems.

By building the capacity of local researchers and government institutions to understand and respond to dengue, and by strengthening international collaboration, the research will not only reduce suffering in the short term, but limit opportunities for new diseases to emerge.

Canadians well understand the potential threat these diseases pose, having dealt with invasions by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and West Nile Virus in the recent past. The more Canada can do to assist developing countries control diseases such as dengue, the better for them and for us.

About the authors

Dominique Charron and Andrés Sanchez work on ecohealth — the field of ecosystem approaches to human health at the Ottawa-based Canada’s International Development Research Centre.

Dominique Charron / Andrés Sanchez | Research asia research news
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Laboratory study: Scientists from Cologne explore a new approach to prevent newborn epilepsies
24.11.2015 | Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE)

nachricht U of T research sheds new light on mysterious fungus that has major health consequences
23.11.2015 | University of Toronto

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

Im Focus: Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism

Heidelberg physicists use ultracold atoms to imitate the behaviour of electrons in a solid

Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a...

Im Focus: Climate Change: Warm water is mixing up life in the Arctic

AWI researchers’ unique 15-year observation series reveals how sensitive marine ecosystems in polar regions are to change

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Art Collection Deutsche Börse zeigt Ausstellung „Traces of Disorder“

21.10.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Harnessing a peptide holds promise for increasing crop yields without more fertilizer

25.11.2015 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Earth's magnetic field is not about to flip

25.11.2015 | Earth Sciences

Tracking down the 'missing' carbon from the Martian atmosphere

25.11.2015 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>