Sanitary workers in the newly-created county of Fracrán in the Argentine province of Misiones have undertaken a house-by-house campaign to persuade people to get vaccinated against yellow fever, Covid-19, and measles, while residents were advised to up their precautions due to the increasing number of cases in neighboring Paraguay, where the first death due to chikungunya has been reported.
The area is also not far from Brazil, as the so-called triple border (Argentina-Brazil-Paraguay) faces new epidemiological challenges.
A 73-year-old woman from the town of Limpo was confirmed Friday to have been the first case in Paraguay's history to die of that malady. Health Surveillance Director Guillermo Sequera explained Friday that the patient did have comorbidities but all tests ratified that chikungunya was the cause of her Dec. 31 death. Sequera also said that there are 15 people hospitalized with a diagnosis of chikungunya, of which three are in intensive care.
Sequera also pointed out that in most cases chikungunya is mistaken for dengue and underlined that one of the main features of the former is that symptoms are symmetrical: if one shoulder hurts, the other one will hurt too. And the rash appears on the second or third day of the disease, while in dengue it only happens between the fifth and seventh day. Nevertheless, he insisted that in cases with abdominal pain, drowsiness, and bleeding from the nose or gums or other places, the patient needs to be hospitalized, regardless of the diagnosis.
In its weekly report, Paraguay's Health Ministry noted that only 9 cases of dengue have been registered so far this year, against 1,244 cases of chikungunya.
Hence, Misiones launched an epidemiological campaign against dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Before cases appear, the goal is to raise awareness about the importance of sanitary measures at home.
Local authorities also underlined the presence of workers from other Argentine jurisdictions where the yellow fever vaccine is not compulsory as it is in Misiones. The proximity to Brazil is another determining factor, it was explained.
Fracrán officials encouraged neighbors to clean their garages and to eliminate any setting where water might accumulate, thus fostering the nesting of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, and to check on their properties after every rain, that children do not go out during peak hours, wear long-sleeve clothing and repellent, particularly with chikungunya cases growing so rapidly in neighboring Paraguay.
People were also advised to avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 5 pm and to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor to avoid undesired effects from UV rays that might lead to skin cancer.
Meanwhile, Paraguayan citizens were reported to be crossing the border over to Brazil's Foz de Yguazú to get their yellow fever shots, since only a few doses are available locally. The yellow fever vaccine is mandatory when entering Brazil, it was reported. Many Paraguayans have chosen Brazil's southern beach resorts for their summer vacations.
According to Paraguay's Health Ministry, the shortage of doses stems from the increasing demand for the drug needed to enter countries such as Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia.