dengue fever

2019 is a record year for dengue fever in Latin America. The mosquito-borne disease has surged across the continent, from Mexico down to Chile and Argentina, with nearly 3 million cases reported.

A new vaccine to prevent dengue may be on the horizon. And health officials say it's desperately needed.

The World Health Organization this year listed dengue as one of the top 10 threats to global health.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In a cow pasture near Shawnee, Kirk Wilson parks his work truck, grabs a harness and prepares for a 30-foot climb.

“We’re changing the sensor at the top of the tower that measures the wind direction,” said Wilson, a burly meteorological electronics technician with a big beard and a booming laugh.

On the ground, another tech uses a GPS receiver to make sure the sensitive instrument is properly aligned before it’s tightened in place.

Sri Lanka celebrated its eradication of malaria last year. But now the country faces another mosquito-borne illness: dengue fever. It's also sometimes known as "breakbone fever" because of the severe pain it can cause.

A dengue outbreak has left some Sri Lankan hospitals so full that they're turning away patients, says Gerhard Tauscher, an operations manager with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He is based in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.