Dengue spreads fast in Brazil prompting emergency health measures

Dengue spreads fast in Brazil prompting emergency health measures

/ 10:55 AM February 08, 2024

Dengue spreads fast in Brazil prompting emergency health measures

Cleaners and health workers collect garbage from a house, after complaints from residents of potential breeding sites of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, in Rocinha slum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 7, 2024. REUTERS

BRASILIA — Dengue fever has surged in Brazil’s hot rainy season, forcing health authorities to take emergency measures and start mass vaccination against the mosquito-borne illness.

In the first five weeks of this year 364,855 cases of infection have been reported, the Health Ministry said, four times more than dengue cases in the same period of 2023.


The rapid spread of dengue has caused 40 confirmed deaths, the ministry said, and a further 265 are being investigated.


READ: Dengue-fighting mosquitoes released in Brazil

Brazil has bought 5.2 million doses of the dengue vaccine Qdenga developed by Japanese drugmaker Takeda’s, with another 1.32 million doses provided at no cost to the government, a ministry statement said.

Three Brazilian states have declared emergencies, including the second most populous state, Minas Gerais, and the Federal District, where the capital, Brasilia, is located and is facing an unprecedented rise in infections.

Brasilia will start vaccinating children aged 10-14 on Friday with Qdenga, the local government said on Wednesday.

Cases of dengue in Brasilia since the start of the year have exceeded the total for the whole of 2023, with a rate of infection of 1,625 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to the national average of just 170.

READ: Brazil to test new vaccine against dengue fever


Army troops have been deployed in the capital to help track breeding spots of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries and spreads the dengue virus in homes and backyards wherever there is stagnant water.

On Monday, the Brazilian Air Force set up a field hospital in preparation for a surge in cases needing hospital care in Ceilandia, a densely-populated poor suburb of Brasilia.

Cities such as Rio de Janeiro that are preparing to celebrate Carnival starting on Saturday have taken measures to prevent an epidemic.

The Health Ministry has set up an emergency center to coordinate operations against dengue across Brazil.

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom, visiting Brasilia on Wednesday, said this dengue outbreak has been fueled by the El Niño phenomenon that brought increased rainfall in Brazil.

“This current dengue outbreak is part of a large global increase in dengue fever with over 500 million cases and over 5,000 deaths reported last year from 80 countries in every region of the world except Europe,” he said at a ministry event.

South America is seeing a surge in cases of dengue during the southern hemisphere summer, exacerbated by rising temperatures and the El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific that contribute to prolonged dengue seasons and spread of infections, scientists say.

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Dengue fever symptoms include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and an itching skin rash. In some cases, the disease can cause a more severe hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding that can lead to death.

TAGS: Brazil, dengue, Health

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