Seoul, South Korea – March 10, 2010 - - PDVI (Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative), a program of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announces today the launch of www.denguewatch.org, a news hub for tracking dengue fever epidemics worldwide. Breaking news articles from reliable sources are displayed on a world map according to the location of dengue outbreaks. Dengue fever is endemic in over 100 countries and puts at risk half of the world’s population.
“Denguewatch.org is an important public health tool providing instant access to news regarding dengue fever epidemics and their impact on global health,” said Dr. John Clemens, IVI Director General, and PDVI Acting Director. “We believe that news reports about dengue hot spots and other important developments can help public health officials track the spread and understand the growing importance of this disease.”
Denguewatch.org reports worldwide news alerts provided by Healthmap.org, a freely available Web site. HealthMap is a system based at Children’s Hospital Boston, Massachusetts in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, MIT Media Lab and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology which integrates outbreak data of varying reliability, ranging from news sources (such as Google News) to curated personal accounts (such as ProMED) to validated official alerts (such as World Health Organization). Dengue news is aggregated and displayed by location for user-friendly access to the original alert.
“The Internet has become a critical medium for clinicians, public health practitioners, and the public seeking health information,” said John S. Brownstein, Ph.D., co-founder of Healthmap.org with Clark Freifeld, “We are proud to collaborate with PDVI for www.denguewatch.org and we believe it can help foster surveillance and prevention of dengue fever worldwide.”
Dengue: a global health threat
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused by four types of dengue viruses (type 1 to 4). Overall, the disease is a potential threat for almost half of the world’s population. Of the estimated 230 million people infected annually, two million, mostly children, develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), a severe form of the disease. DHF is a leading cause of hospitalization, placing tremendous pressure on strained medical resources.
Dengue fever occurs mostly in tropical and subtropical countries in Asia and Latin America and is spreading to new parts of the globe each year. In addition, dengue affects countries such as Australia (Queensland) and the United States (Puerto Rico, Texas-Mexico border, Hawaii and the US-affiliated Pacific Islands). A substantial number of people travelling to endemic regions are also infected each year.
Expansion of dengue fever is driven by increased movement of people, massive unplanned urbanization, added to a lack of effective mosquito control. Dengue prevention requires fostering a thorough knowledge of the disease.
The Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative, a program of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) founded in 2001, aims to reduce the burden of dengue disease by accelerating the development, evaluation and introduction of affordable dengue vaccines. PDVI works with public and private partners to accelerate the development and introduction of a dengue vaccine that is safe, effective and affordable for children in endemic countries. PDVI is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more information, please visit our website:www.pdvi.org
The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines for the world’s poorest people, especially children in developing countries. Established as an initiative of the United Nations Development Program in 1997, the IVI operates under a treaty signed by 40 countries and the World Health Organization. IVI conducts research in more than 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America on vaccines against diarrheal infections, bacterial meningitis and pneumonia, Japanese encephalitis, dengue fever and more. For further information, please visit:www.ivi.int