Dengue: Argentina and Paraguay fight against disease – 02/08/2024 – Balance and Health

Dengue: Argentina and Paraguay fight against disease – 02/08/2024 – Balance and Health

Health workers travel through the neighborhoods of Asunción every day to kill mosquitoes and combat their larvae in the fight against dengue fever, which has wreaked havoc in Paraguay with 36 deaths since December, while cases have also occurred in Argentina.

The purpose of the agents working in the Paraguayan capital is to eliminate stagnant water and clean dumps before the start of the school term, scheduled for the second half of February, to reduce the impact of this mosquito-borne disease. Aedes Aegypti.

“Unfortunately, we don’t count on our neighbors”, lamented Mayor Guido Gonzáles, referring to the lack of collaboration in the fight against mosquitoes. “What we ask most is that they can get involved and raise awareness.”

Asunción and its metropolitan area, with 1.8 million inhabitants, are the epicenter of the outbreak in Paraguay, which declared itself an epidemiological emergency in December.

Between December and January, there were “36 deaths, of which 12 are children and more than 2,000 hospitalized with confirmed dengue or suspected of having contracted the disease”, doctor Agueda Cabello, director of Health Surveillance at the Paraguayan Ministry of Health, told AFP.

Heat, poverty and the hope of the vaccine

In Argentina, the case curve grew above average after a 2023 with a record of 68 deaths and more than 135 thousand infections.

An epidemiological alert is also in force in the country, concentrated in the northeastern provinces (Chaco, Formosa, Corrientes and Misiones), the most affected.

According to the latest report, around 10,000 cases were reported during the first three weeks of January, an unprecedented number for that period.

In recent years, Argentina has recorded a continuous increase in contagions. Health authorities detected the circulation of four dengue serotypes and their expansion from the north to the center of the country with a more temperate climate.

Dengue fever is a portrait of poverty, in the opinion of pediatric infectious disease specialist Mateo Balmelli, who recommended “returning to the old practice of using mosquito nets like our grandparents.”

In addition to poverty, experts consider that the effect of climate change, disorderly urbanization and the population’s lack of commitment to prevention also contribute to dengue remaining an endemic disease in countries in the south of the continent. El Niño is another crucial element.

Brazil has also faced an explosion of cases since the beginning of the year, and recorded four times more infections during the same period than in 2023.

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health, during the first four weeks of 2024, 262,247 probable cases of dengue were recorded, compared to 65,366 in the same period last year.

Rio de Janeiro declared a health emergency due to the outbreak and opened 10 care centers just a few days before the start of Carnival.

Dengue has killed 29 people since the beginning of this year in the country, and another 173 deaths that may have been caused by the disease are still being analyzed.

In December, the Brazilian Ministry of Health announced the purchase of 5.082 million doses for 2024. According to the ministry, the vaccines began to be delivered by the Japanese manufacturer Takeda in January.

Also according to the ministry, in a note released in January this year, initially, the target audience for the vaccine will be “children and adolescents aged 10 to 14”. According to the statement, the vaccination schedule consists of two doses with an interval of three months between them.

In turn, in Argentina and Paraguay, the same vaccine is sold privately and has a prohibitive sales price for the majority of the population.

Furthermore, Cabello believes it is difficult to control dengue fever with the vaccine alone: ​​”Unfortunately, we will have to continue working on destroying breeding sites.

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