Dengue Fever Infects 2 models in Japan’s Yoyogi Park
Dengue, once common in Japan, was eliminated there in the 1970s. Now it’s back – repeating the pattern seen in Cuba. Here’s the story:
The two women-Saaya, 20, and Eri Aoki, 25-were sent to Yoyogi Park last month for the Saturday variety show on which they appear, the Nikkan Sports said. A few days later, both came down with a temperature.
Japanese health authorities have reported the first locally transmitted case of dengue fever in the country in more than 60 years.
The ministry said the case occurred in Saitama, a prefecture adjacent to Tokyo. Local media reports said the patient was a teen-aged girl who has since recovered.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, in confirming the report, said Wednesday that the news was not cause for alarm because the illness is not transmitted directly from person to person.
Japan sees dozens of imported cases of dengue fever each year, mostly tourists who catch the illness while traveling in tropical regions. The disease, which is transmitted by mosquito, was common in Japan during World War II but was locally eradicated for decades.
Dengue in Japan has now become a local threat. The health authorities will be opening dengue disease-control manuals they put aside decades ago when they eliminated dengue from the country.
Dengue causes symptoms including fever, severe joint pain and headaches. There is no treatment.
The BBC’s Discovery Program is a wonderful source of scientific information. So’s the California Academy of Sciences. Here’s a description of their dengue podcast and video. At the end of the blurb are links to the program so you can listen and watch at your leisure.
Dengue fever is carried in the tropics all around the world by the mosquito Aedis aegypti. The disease passes from person to person via these mosquitoes. Dengue doesn’t exist in forests and fields, only where people live, so it’s particularly prevalent in towns.
Dengue is endemic in Brazil. The only weapon against it is chemical spray. But it’s hard to catch the mozzies as they lurk in the tiniest pool of water. Also, once you get infected with Dengue (symptoms ranging from mild-flu-like to bedridden ‘breakbone fever’) all subsequent infections just get worse. It’s why the Brazilians are desperate to find a new way of stopping Dengue – for which there is no vaccine.
That’s the reason Brazil is the first country in the world to run a GM mosquito public health programme. They already have facilities for producing vast numbers of sterile mosquitoes – though they produce them via irradiation. Last summer we reported on caged outdoor trials in Mexico of mosquitoes genetically modified to fight Dengue.
In Brazil in February this year, UK company Oxitec, in collaboration with the University of Sao Paolo and a company called Moscamed in Brazil, started doing test releases in the city of Juazeiro, in Bahia province of N E Brazil. (Juazeiro is close to Brazil’s major tropical fruit exporting city of Petrolina). The test was to see whether the GM mozzies would survive and do their job in the wild, which they seemed to.