Indian Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) civic administration worker uses a fogging machine during a fumigation operation to eradicate the mosquito menace at Cubbon Park, in Bangalore, India. - EPA

GENEVA: Dengue is now endemic in 128 countries and is the biggest threat to world health. With Pakistan and Laos among the most affected, the international community must take drastic action to stop dengue outbreaks.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), dengue strikes as many as 96 million people each year, a huge leap from the 1970s when it existed in only nine countries.

Coordinator of WHO’s vector management programme in Geneva, Dr Raman Velayudhan, was quoted by the organisation as saying: “We need to engage communities to push for more proactive, sustainable preventive measures rather than simply reacting to outbreaks.”

At the beginning of this year, WHO included the virus in its list of the world’s top 10 public health threats.

“WHO is working with governments and health partners to scale up the global response to the escalation of dengue outbreaks by strengthening vector control programmes through heightened surveillance and monitoring of Aedes mosquitoes and other mosquito-borne viruses.

“It also aims to reinforce laboratories and community interventions to prepare for and respond swiftly to outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses,” said WHO.

According to Al-Jazeera, 44,000 Pakistanis were infected by dengue this year, resulting in 66 deaths.

In Laos, dengue fever claimed 74 lives and more than 37,700 people have contracted the virus so far this year, said Xinhuanet.

Infections have steadily climbed across the globe since the 1970s due to rising temperatures and irregular monsoon rains linked to climate change, which allows for ideal mosquito breeding conditions.

The most recent challenge of tackling dengue emerged after a patient, 41, contracted the disease from his homosexual partner’s semen.

The Spanish citizen developed dengue fever without having visited areas prone to the disease, which was due to his partner who had been infected by the virus during a visit to Cuba.