Brazilian sanitary authorities confirmed the existence of a dengue epidemic in several counties of five states. They are Matto Grosso bordering with Bolivia; Matto Grosso do Sul next to Bolivia and Paraguay; Acre neighbouring with Peru and Bolivia; Roraima to the north next to Venezuela and Guyana and the state of Goias in the heart of Brazil.
“The risk that carnival celebrations might change the behaviour of the epidemic always exists”, said Giovanini Evelim Coelho, coordinator of the National Program for Control of Dengue.
Dengue which is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito becomes an epidemic when the number of confirmed cases reaches 300 per 100.000 of population.
Dengue is considered one of the most extended diseases in the world and is endemic in the heartland of South America which includes northern Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia.
At the beginning of the month the Brazilian government alerted about the epidemic risk following the reappearance of the DEN-1 strain, with no cases registered in Brazil for the last ten years. Since January Brazilian sanitary officials have confirmed 12.666 cases in the country, five of them causing death.
Although dengue cases have fallen overall 34.2% compared to last year, 298 Brazilian residents died of the most acute strain, and the Brazilian government has launched a massive information and prevention campaign.
In related news sanitary authorities from the Argentine northern province of Misiones, next to Paraguay, have confirmed 424 dengue cases since mid December. Most of the affected are back home and only 70 remain in hospitals or clinics.
However officials are on the alert because in the city of Port Iguazú, where the three countries meet (Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) next to the world famous falls, a daily average of 60 people visits medical centres with possible symptoms of the disease.
Misiones was put on “yellow alert” last year following the epidemic in Paraguay.
Dengue is caused by four closely virus serotypes of the genus Flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease manifests as a sudden onset of severe headache, muscle and joint pains, sever pains that gives it the nickname of break-bone fever or “bone-crusher”, plus fever and rash. There may also be gastritis with some combination of associated abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
The more dangerous strain is the dengue hemorrhagic fever which causes abdominal pain, haemorrhage and circulatory collapse. DHF starts abruptly with high continuous fever and headache plus respiratory and intestinal symptoms with sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Shock occurs after 2 to 6 days with sudden collapse, cool clammy extremities, weak pulse, and blueness around the mouth (cyanosis). Pneumonia and heart inflammation may be present. The mortality is appreciable ranging from 6 to 30%.