The association between obesity and dengue severity among paediatric patients

Mosquitos have been named as the world’s deadliest animal due to their role as a vector in the transmission of diseases like Malaria, Dengue, West Nile virus, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika just to name a few. Dengue infection an acute systemic viral infection caused by the dengue virus, which is carried by Aedes mosquitors is the most prevalent disease in Malaysia, with a rate of 328.3 cases per 100,000 population. The other areas where dengue infection is a problem are in the tropical and sub-tropical regions mainly in Asia, Caribbean, Africa, the Pacific, and the Americas. Globally, dengue infection was responsible for 576,900 years-life-lost (YLL) and 1.14 million disability-adjusted-life-years (DALY). With climate change and global warming, more areas will experience sub-tropical weather, which will worsen the situation.

Currently, the evidence showed that the most important predictor of adverse dengue infection was the rapid decrease of platelets with increased hematocrit levels during the critical phase. There were scarce and inconclusive evidence linking overweight and obesity with the severity of dengue infection. The role that obesity in the deterioration of dengue infection may be due to stronger body immune responses. The number obese individuals susceptible to dengue will significantly increase with the increasing prevalence of obesity and increasing populations susceptible to dengue infection.

Recently, Dr Mohd Syis Zulkipli, a Doctor of Public Health candidate from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya published his first peer-reviewed paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases as part of his DrPH programme. His paper, “The association between obesity and dengue severity among pediatric patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis” found that found that there was 38 percent higher odds (Odds Ratio = 1.38; 95% CI:1.10, 1.73) of developing severe dengue infection among obese children compared to non-obese children. He proposed that there should be further large-scale prospective studies in regions with high prevalence of dengue infections is needed for us to have a better understanding of the relationship.

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