PAHO Documents Increase In Dengue Fever Cases In Latin America

Countries in Latin America “are bracing this year for a particularly virulent outbreak of the mosquito-borne tropical disease” known as dengue fever, after reports show an increase in the number of cases recorded this year, Agence France-Presse reports. “The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said so far it has logged some 146,000 cases in the first three months of the year, of which 79 have been fatal. This time last year there were some 79,000 cases of dengue reported, with 26 deaths,” the news service writes.

“We have a (level of) epidemic that never before existed during normal seasons,” explained Violeta Menjivar, the deputy health minister in El Salvador, where “last month the government declared a national state of emergency for dengue,” AFP notes. Menjivar said, “The entire Central American region is affected.”

Symptoms of dengue “include high temperatures and muscle aches” and “in extreme cases” can result in “hemorrhaging and death,” AFP writes. There is no vaccine.

“According to the PAHO, the countries likely to be hardest hit by this year’s outbreak are Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela,” AFP continues. “In Brazil, the number of dengue cases was up by 109 percent over last year, with 21 deaths. In Colombia, 22 people have died, or around 28,000 stricken with the illness. In Venezuela meanwhile, there have been 16,000 cases so far, said health officials who said the number of cases appears to be rising year after year.”

AFP reports on how climatic factors, like El Nino, may be contributing to the increase in dengue fever cases and how health officials are working to try to halt the spread of the disease (3/24).

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