More than 200,000 infections: Brazil battles rapid spread of dengue fever

DIn just one week, the number of probable dengue fever cases in Brazil has nearly doubled. According to the Ministry of Health, almost 120 thousand cases were registered in the first three weeks of the year. At the end of January there were almost 220,000, an 80 percent increase in one week and three times more than the same period last year. In January, 15 deaths were linked to the viral illness, and another 149 cases are still under investigation. Chikungunya virus infections have also increased sharply compared to last year.

Experts point to hot and rainy weather during the summer months as the reason for the rapid spread of dengue and chikungunya viruses in Brazil and other South American countries such as Paraguay and Argentina. This encourages the breeding of the Egyptian tiger mosquito or yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which, among other things, also transmit dengue. Mosquitoes lay their larvae in stagnant water, where they hatch within a few days in warm conditions. Even the smallest reserves of water accumulated in plastic waste lying around serve as a breeding ground for the larvae. This makes it difficult to control their spread.

In addition to annual awareness campaigns and efforts to curb pesticide spraying in hard-hit areas, Brazil has had new weapons against dengue for weeks. With the number of cases soaring, a vaccination drive has been launched. This was made possible by a new vaccine called Qdenga from Japanese manufacturer Takeda, which was approved by authorities in December. Brazil has already received several hundred thousand doses. By the end of the year there should be 6.5 million. The vaccination campaign is aimed at children aged six years and older. Qdenga is also already approved in the European Union, Indonesia and Thailand.

In most cases, dengue fever has no symptoms. In about 20 percent of all cases, the infection is accompanied by fever, chills, severe headaches and body aches. Severe cases usually occur, especially after reinfection. The mortality rate for severe cases is between one and five percent.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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