Tuesday, August 13, 2013
2013 “Year of the Dengue Plague” Says LatAm Health Officials
According to the Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO), 2013 is shaping up to be the “year of the dengue plague” in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In a presentation made yesterday at a conference in Cuba, PAHO health expert Luis Castellanos claimed that there have been nearly 1.4 million cases reported of the tropical disease throughout the Americas in this year alone.
Castellanos noted that the high numbers may be partly due to stronger efforts by countries to accurately report dengue cases. In the case of Brazil, the Latin American country with the most dengue cases, he said that there’s a major push by health officials to “register and report” instances of the disease.
Despite the large number of dengue cases, Castellanos observed that the death toll from dengue has declined throughout the region. Nevertheless, he warned that combating dengue is a “very complex public health problem” that requires the participation of other sectors outside the health care field such as civil society.
Though dengue is endemic to Central America, the disease has hit the area especially hard this year. Some 120,000 suspected cases of dengue have been reported so far in the region while the 2013 death toll of at least 39 has already surpassed the death toll of all of last year.
Authorities in the neighboring countries of Honduras and El Salvador have declared health emergencies with the hope of preventing the spread of the disease. Other nations in Central America have sent workers to spray insecticide at puddles and to lecture people against leaving standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Costa Rican health officials even created a videogame so that kids can identify and eradicate mosquito nests.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, dengue is “a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics.” In addition, the World Health Organization believes that nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of being infected by dengue, which is carried by infected mosquitos and has no vaccine to control it.
Video Source– YouTube via Al Jazeera English (Please note that this video was uploaded in December 2012).
Online Sources – Prensa Latina; RPP; Fox News; Centers for Disease Control; World Health Organization; Diario Vasco