Brazil Issues Dengue Fever Alert Ahead of Carnival Amid Soaring Cases in South America
In response to a surge in dengue fever cases gripping Brazil and South America, Sao Paulo has activated an emergency operations center, intensifying efforts to combat the mosquito-borne disease as millions of visitors flock to the country for carnival festivities.
The alarming spike in dengue fever cases extends to Argentina, where an unprecedented 10,000 cases were reported within the first three weeks of the year. Paraguay, facing a dire situation, declared a health emergency due to dengue, with 36 deaths recorded since December, including 12 children.
Ahead of Rio de Janeiro’s renowned carnival, Brazil’s second-largest city after Sao Paulo, officials declared a public health emergency. With carnival celebrations looming, Rio authorities swiftly inaugurated ten specialized treatment centers to relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals grappling with the surge in dengue cases.
Patient Luciana Ferreira, speaking from the Curicica neighborhood in Rio, welcomed the establishment of dedicated treatment centers, emphasizing the strain on hospitals, stating, “It’s a good thing they opened this center. The hospitals can’t handle the situation alone.”
Amidst the escalating crisis, Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, mobilized by setting up an emergency field hospital to address the mounting healthcare demands stemming from the surge in dengue fever cases.
Brazil recorded a staggering 345,235 suspected cases of dengue within the first five weeks of the year, a fourfold increase compared to the corresponding period last year. The gravity of the situation is underscored by the loss of 31 lives to dengue, with an additional 234 deaths under scrutiny by Brazilian health authorities for potential links to the disease.
In a proactive measure to combat the spread of dengue, Sao Paulo initiated trials of a drone equipped with larvicide, targeting hard-to-reach mosquito breeding grounds.
Brazil’s response strategy includes plans to commence a public vaccination campaign against dengue this month, with priority given to children aged 10 to 14. However, the vaccination effort faces challenges due to a shortage of doses from Takeda, the Japanese pharmaceutical company manufacturing the vaccine. Consequently, Brazil is exploring options to domestically produce a dengue vaccine to bolster its public health defenses against the disease.
Dengue fever, capable of causing severe complications such as hemorrhagic fever, afflicts an estimated 100 million to 400 million individuals annually, although the majority of cases are mild or exhibit no symptoms, as outlined by the World Health Organization.
As Brazil and its South American neighbors grapple with the dengue fever outbreak amid carnival season, urgent measures are underway to contain the spread of the disease and safeguard public health during this period of heightened festivities.