August 16, 2013 -- Southeast Asia is scrambling to combat a deadly outbreak of dengue fever, the tropical illness transmitted by mosquitoes, which has hit parts of the region especially hard.
Health experts suspect that an unusually early rainy season that brought mosquitoes out in April, months ahead of what is expected, contributed to the seriousness of the dengue challenge. Also, above-average temperatures that many experts blame on global warming encouraged early mosquito breeding. Meanwhile, dengue is thought to be mutating as a result of immunity that has built up in the region. And as the virus is spread by travelers, more countries are expected to be affected.
The story in Southeast Asia is varied. Thailand, Laos and Singapore have seen sharp increases in infections compared with last year. Meanwhile, the Philippines, which has the largest number of deaths, at 306 so far, nevertheless has made some inroads as bringing numbers down from the 499 deaths in the year-earlier period, which health officials there attribute to education campaigns and antimosquito spraying.
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