Dengue alert in Paraguay; SMS awareness campaign to fight mosquitoes
Paraguay’s Health Ministry announced it will appeal to SMS messages as part of the awareness campaign to help prevent the mosquito transmitted dengue disease which this year has already caused 70 deaths and thousands of infections.
The ministry said that given the extraordinary rainfall of recent weeks and forecasted to continue, January can turn into a “tragic” month if all necessary measures are not taken to avoid the proliferation of the mosquito.
The latest annual official report from December 14 indicated that there had been 30.143 confirmed cases with a mortality rate of 0.23%. Most cases are concentrated in the capital Asunción and the adjoining Central County where 40% of Paraguay’s population lives.
The campaign from the National Service for the Eradication of Malaria will concentrate on the SMS messages from the cellular phone operators and collecting tyres where stagnant water in the rainy season becomes a natural breeding pool for mosquitoes.
The head of the service Silvio Ortega said that fumigation brigades will be visiting homes over the weekend to help combat the mosquitoes since during weekdays most families are off to work or school.
Dengue is transmitted by the ‘aedes aeqypti’ mosquito which proliferates in tropical countries where stagnant water can become lethal.
“Because of recent rainfall and the forecast for summer, the number of mosquitoes has exploded mainly in Asuncion, Luque and the Central County”.
Health minister Antonio Arbo anticipated that January will be a crucial month since during Christmas and New Year many people from the capital and other cities travel to visit relatives and many homes remain unattended for days while with abundant rainfall the breeding of mosquitoes will certainly be significant.
“It could be tragic if the appropriate measures are not taken. That is why we are going to literally ‘pester’ people with awareness messages” pledged the minister.
Dengue is endemic in Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and north of Argentina. The only country free of dengue with only a few ‘imported cases’ has been Uruguay, where a fumigation campaign has started following the exceptional rainfall of November and December.