Spraying mosquito (Dengue) repellent through a light vehicle in the city area in DHA, Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan. Photo Credit: Amir Mukhtar/Getty ImagesHealth United Kingdom
Dengue Fever Prevented in Hundreds of Thousands of People, Following COVID Restrictions
COVID-19 stay-at-home orders had an unintended positive consequence: dengue fever was prevented in hundreds of thousands of people across Latin America and Southeast Asia.
A recent study estimated that there were 720,000 fewer dengue virus infections — also known as “breakbone fever” due to the severe joint and muscle pain it causes — globally in the first year of the pandemic due to restrictions on movement.
“We found really unexpected net benefits from Covid restrictions that are going to help us better fight dengue in the future,” says Dr. Oliver Brady, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
With over 5 million people worldwide infected with dengue in 2019, the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns brought with them some unexpected insight for researchers. School closures, as well as work-from-homes orders, appear to have played key roles in lowering dengue infections. Before the study, most dengue control programs focused on spraying to kill mosquitoes in and around people’s homes, as scientists were under the assumption that the home is where transmission happens. Following the release of the study, researchers now understand the need for more mosquito control in public places. What’s more, the findings may even prove relevant for other closely-related mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika and Chikungunya.