An unprecedented dengue epidemic has spread in Brazil. With the number of cases increasing, hospitals are struggling to cope. Health officials and the government are trying to stop the contamination.
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Dengue fever is very widespread in tropical regions; Brazil uses it. The anomaly is that more than 400,000 people are now infected, and that’s four times more than last year, in February, at the same time.
Spread by the bite of a small black mosquito with a white stripe, this virus causes malaria-like symptoms: high fever, headache, fatigue, vomiting, etc. In some cases it can be fatal. The country has reported about sixty deaths attributed to it, but about 300 others are still under investigation.
Everything has accelerated since the end of January. More than half of the cities are affected, several states have declared a state of health emergency. In the capital Brasilia, the army also had to open a field hospital to relieve health services. Authorities expect to end the year with 5 million patients (for 203 million inhabitants). Guyana has also been affected.
Climate change is involved
This explosion of cases is largely due to… global warming. Last year, an El Niño event brought drought and temperatures well above normal, followed by heavy rains: the ideal equation for the spread of mosquitoes.
The carnival that took place last week with its huge gatherings did nothing to help… not to mention the certain relaxation of the population in the face of the barrier gesture: many Brazilians are no longer in the habit of covering their tanks or disposing of them properly. Their dirty water.
Authorities are calling for general mobilization. Above all, President Lula does not want to find himself in the same position as his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, who was responsible for a large portion of the deaths associated with Covid-19 due to his inaction and his anti-vaccine stance.
This time, an emergency unit was set up. A prevention spot is broadcast on radio and television. Municipal agents in gas masks and white overalls are increasing the number of housing fumigation operations.
Free vaccination campaign, a world first
But above all, a major free vaccination campaign began on Friday February 9. That makes Brazil the first country in the world to offer a dengue vaccine as part of its public health system.
The problem is that the doses of the Kyudenga vaccine, produced by the Japanese laboratory Takeda, are not numerous enough, vaccination is currently limited to the most vulnerable, 10 – 11-year-olds, then will affect people under 14. In a country where three-quarters of vaccines are used to manufacture, anxiety and unpredictability are growing at the same pace as the epidemic.