Taiwan is redoubling efforts to halt the spread of dengue fever, which has hit the southern part of the island hard over the past two years.
The News Lens
By: Jules Quartly
Growing global concern about the Zika virus has led to intensified efforts to combat the white-
speckled Aedes aegypti mosquito that also transmits dengue fever, a disease that has ravaged southern Taiwan in recent years.
Despite having been around for decades, Zika previously aroused little attention because its symptoms were considered relatively mild. But that situation changed dramatically in October last year when it was discovered that Zika was to blame for microcephaly (unusually small heads and damaged brains) in the children of infected pregnant women. The World Health Organization (WHO) is now describing Zika as an international public health emergency.
But while the headlines these days are mainly about Zika, dengue is becoming an ever more present menace around the world, particularly in Asia and increasingly in Taiwan. “People tend to ignore epidemic threats until they perceive a potential direct impact on themselves,” comments Jonathan Schwartz, director of the Asian Studies Program at the State University of New York at New Paltz, whose research specialty is government responses to epidemics. “Zika is frightening a lot of people, and as a result they are pressuring governments to address the threat. Since there are notable similarities between Zika and dengue in terms of how they spread and how they can be controlled, this is having a positive impact on addressing the dengue threat as well.” [FULL STORY]