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Dengue Outbreaks Linked To Indian Ocean Temperature Index

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An Aedes aegypti mosquito. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim, Wikipedia Commons.

(CTN News) – Dengue epidemics may be predicted in advance and a more effective public health response may be initiated by an indicator that monitors temperature fluctuations in the Indian Ocean, according to experts.

WHO reports that dengue,

A virus that is prevalent in tropical regions and can cause up to 400 million cases annually, is a threat to nearly half of the global population. Mosquitoes transmit the virus.

Variations in the sea surface temperature of the Indian Ocean may be able to predict the severity of outbreaks in numerous Asian and South American countries up to nine months in advance, as per a study published in Science.

After examining 30 global climate indices, scientists concluded that the Indian Ocean basin-wide index (IOBW), which is a measure of the average sea-surface temperatures in the basin, was the “most influential in impacting dengue outbreaks in both hemispheres.”

An international team of researchers has concluded that the potential for increased sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean to alter global weather patterns, thereby fostering the reproduction of mosquitoes and the transmission of dengue. According to scientists, seasonal dengue upticks are influenced by local climate indicators such as temperature, but yearly incidences are also documented by global climate trends.

Yiting Xu, a professor at Beijing Normal University’s School of National Safety and Emergency Management and co-author of the study, explains that the IOBW index offers a more reliable early warning system by extending the lead-time to nine months, whereas local temperature can only provide a forecast up to three months in advance.

Current dengue early warning systems utilize climate parameters.

Including temperature and rainfall, to predict illness patterns. For instance, El Nio events influence mosquito reproductive conditions, which in turn affect the global transmission patterns of dengue.

In order to identify long-distance climate drivers of dengue epidemics, researchers simulated connections between global climate patterns and seasonal and yearly case counts using case data reported from 32 countries in the Americas and 14 in Asia, one of which was India, between 1990 and 2019.

The index has the capacity to accurately forecast epidemics in South American nations such as Venezuela, Brazil, and Peru, as well as Asian nations such as Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.

In dengue transmission scenarios with and without the IOBW index, the dengue outbreak in 2015–2016 and the significantly reduced dengue epidemics worldwide in 2017–2018 were accurately simulated. This is consistent with a warm IOBW event in 2015–2016 and a frigid IOBW event in 2017–2018.

Improved validations and exhaustive dengue indicators are needed.

The researchers plan to integrate variables such as socioeconomic circumstances, local herd immunity, and vector control.

Rainfall, water availability, and a community’s lifestyle, including housing and personal protective equipment, are additional factors that influence disease transmission and the timing of outbreaks, according to environmental epidemiologist Ramesh Dhiman, who was previously employed by the National Institute of Malaria Research of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

According to Dhiman, “it may not be possible to predict outbreaks more than four to five months ahead of time.” “A lot can change in the time leading up to the outbreak with regard to rainfall pattern, number of rainy days, and continuous or interrupted rainfall,” according to him.

Nevertheless, Dhiman asserts that Aedes mosquito vectors endure for an extended period of time due to the elevated humidity that precipitation induces.

In certain Indian states, dengue epidemics are closely linked to El Niño events and the monsoon and post-monsoon rainfall, as per Dhiman’s research. However, in other regions, dengue infections decrease during summer El Niño events. He also issued a cautionary note, stating that local dengue transmission may commence in regions that were previously too frigid for the disease as temperatures increase.


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Salman Ahmad is a seasoned writer for CTN News, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise to the platform. With a knack for concise yet impactful storytelling, he crafts articles that captivate readers and provide valuable insights. Ahmad's writing style strikes a balance between casual and professional, making complex topics accessible without compromising depth.

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