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Dengue Fever Kills 13 in Malaysia

Dengue fever killed 13 people in Malaysia in January, as cases of the mosquito-borne disease continue to rise across the country, a news report said Friday.

Six of the victims were younger than 15, while the rest were between 16 and 62, the New Straits Times quoted Ramlee Rahmat, director of the Health Ministry's communicable disease control division, as saying.

There has been a spike in dengue cases across Malaysia (search) since late 2004. Normally, an average of about 60 dengue-caused fatalities are recorded each year.

Dengue fever (search) is a common viral illness throughout tropical regions. It is spread by the Aedes mosquito (search), which bites during the day. Ramlee said health officials had checked more than 60,000 premises for mosquito breeding spots in the past week alone.

"All Aedes mosquito breeding grounds must be destroyed or else more people will become victims of the disease," Ramlee said.

Dengue is characterized by headaches, rashes, cramps and severe back and muscle pains. It usually lasts about two weeks after infection and can be fatal if treatment is delayed.