Experts triple estimate of world dengue fever infections

Updated 08 April 2013

Experts triple estimate of world dengue fever infections

LONDON: Around 390 million people are infected each year with dengue fever — the world’s fastest-spreading tropical disease — more than triple the current estimate by the World Health Organization, experts said on Sunday.
The new finding, based on several years of analysis, underscores the growing burden of the mosquito-borne viral disease, which is also called “breakbone fever” because of the severe pain it can cause.
There is as yet no approved vaccine or specific drug to treat dengue, which is not normally fatal but lands many victims in hospital.
Researchers from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust presented their results, along with a detailed map of dengue distribution, in the journal Nature.
Their new figure includes 96 million severe cases and approximately 300 million mild or asymptomatic episodes. That compares with the WHO’s most recent estimate for overall infections of 50-100 million a year, The high number of relatively mild cases offers little cause for comfort, since it suggests the reservoir of disease is far larger than expected.
What is more, dengue is a disease that hits more than once and people who get it mildly first time are more likely to have a serious episode if bitten again by an infected mosquito.
“The asymptomatic patients, in terms of the future burden of disease, are a very important contributor,” said Jeremy Farrar, director of Oxford University’s tropical disease research unit in Vietnam.
Spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, dengue has grown rapidly along with urbanization and globalization because it thrives in tropical mega-cities and is easily spread in goods containing small puddles of water, such as used tires.
Climate change is also making more parts of the planet habitable for the dengue-spreading mosquito.
As a result, half the world’s population is now exposed to the disease, mostly in the developing world — but also in parts of southern Europe and the southern United States.
Last year Europe experienced its first sustained transmission of dengue fever since the 1920s with around 2,000 people infected in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira.
Farrar said more such outbreaks were likely in future, since the mosquito was already present in southern Europe and there were increasing numbers of people traveling to and from dengue-infected areas.
The researchers estimated that 70 percent of the world’s serious dengue cases were in Asia, with India alone accounting for 34 percent of the total. The Americas — mainly Brazil and Mexico — made up 14 percent, while Africa’s dengue burden was nearly as large.
The prevalence of the disease in Africa is worrying, since dengue has not generally been seen as a major problem on the continent. The research team said the impact of disease in Africa was being masked by symptomatically similar illnesses, such as malaria.
Hopes for an effective dengue vaccine suffered a setback last year when an experimental shot from Sanofi proved far less effective than hoped in a mid-stage clinical trial in Thailand.
Further large trials of the Sanofi vaccine — the most advanced in development — are still continuing and scientists have not given up hope that it may yet have a role of play.
A number of other experimental vaccines are also in development, although at a much earlier stage.


Joshua reveals he’s gone back to school ahead of Ruiz rematch

Updated 06 December 2019

Joshua reveals he’s gone back to school ahead of Ruiz rematch

  • “I really started studying boxing again”: Joshua

RIYADH: Former world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua has admitted that he has been hitting the books just as hard as the gym in his six-month buildup to this weekend’s epic Clash On The Dunes bout in Riyadh.

The 30-year-old revealed that, as well as sparring with up to five fighters in a row, he committed to learning as much as he could about the “science of boxing” in his preparations for the rematch following his June defeat to Mexican-American fighter Andy Ruiz.

The pair meet again on Saturday in the jewel in the crown of Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Season — with tickets selling fast in the face of phenomenal demand.

To Joshua, the fight is his chance of redemption following Ruiz’s shock win in New York’s Madison Square Garden, so he has left no stone unturned in his quest to produce the perfect performance under the lights and with the eyes of the world watching.

“After that fight, I knew my mistakes,” he told Arab News. “That’s why I said: ‘You were the better man that day. I give you it. First-ever Mexican champion. Hats off to you.’”

He continued: “I wasn’t low because I know I’m better than that and that I’ve got a lot more I needed to give. I just knew that me and Andy are different in every aspect — the only thing we have in common is time. So I made sure I used my time wisely because I knew I was going to get it right. I knew what I needed to work on. It was more strategic planning.

“Ever since I walked into boxing I’ve been dominating. From the amateurs — bosh, championship. Turned pro — bosh, championship. You never really understand what (you have) until it’s taken (from you).

“Then I had time to think and that’s when I really started studying boxing again. There is no doubt I can fight. I’ve been fighting top-level fighters. I’ve never really had an introduction level. I’ve just been straight on. I’ve now had the time to reflect, get my head right, get my head back in the game, and boost myself again and do what I did 10 years ago: take over this division.”

When asked what his studying entailed, Joshua — who won a gold medal in the heavyweight category at the 2012 London Olympics — explained: “Loads of videos. Sometimes you can put fighters side-by-side — both 6 feet 6 inches, both weighing roughly the same amount — but you can see one is more disciplined with technique than the other, you can then see why they became more successful in their field and you learn about the discipline of following through your tactics. Stuff like that.

“You learn about when you move to the left against an orthodox fighter: Is that a dangerous move or is that a smart move to control a fighter? What does it mean to move to the right? What’s the first art of defensive boxing? It’s your feet — get out the way. You start to indulge yourself in the sweet science. Before I was more, ‘I’ve just come to fight.’ Now I’ve learned about the sweet science of the sport, which is important as well.”

In line with his learning, Joshua has ensured his 3,000-mile trip from London does not impact his training and fight preparation. In the lead-up to June’s defeat, he spent seven weeks away from home in Miami. On this occasion, he has arrived only two weeks prior — allowing him to maintain a “training camp vibe” to his buildup.

He believes he is now in the perfect place ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster bout, admitting he actually finds the actual fight the least nerve-wracking part of the whole experience.

“I just kept a training routine and focused on business: Keep my focus and get the job done,” he said. “I’m not nervous at all. I’m confident. I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous for a fight. I’ve probably been more nervous sparring. I trap myself in a dungeon, so I feel like I’m an experiment in a lab. I then come and present my efforts to you.

“That’s why I feel I’ve got so much pressure on myself, because behind closed doors I work so hard mentally and physically to try and stay at the top. I spar, like, five guys in a row who come to take my head off, and I’ve got to be sharp in every second of that round, which will ultimately (affect) what I do on fight night. Training is the hardest part, I think. That’s why I’m never nervous about a fight, because I put so much work in in the gym.”

Ruiz’s win over Joshua in June sent reverberations across all divisions of the sport, with many considering it one of boxing’s biggest ever upsets. So, could lightning strike twice?

“I think it’s kind of like an exam, isn’t it?” said Joshua. “You go through it once, you fail. Most people fail their first driving test, then they go again and prepare better, so I think I’m better prepared if I’m honest with you. You will definitely see the energy in the fight a bit different this time.”

Asked what the outcome would be if he were to suffer a second defeat to Ruiz in seven months, Joshua said: “Definitely catastrophic. But I’m not even thinking about losing. It’ll be big business when I win. I just got to keep focusing on the win.”

He added, “Everyone fails their first driving test. I think I got mine the second time.”