Dengue Outbreak In Brazil

Nov. 22, 2010, 9:07 a.m.

As Brazil prepares to enter its "six-month rainy season" starting next month, during which "the frequent downpours will quickly turn trash piles, old tires, abandoned wells and even crumpled cigarette packs into containers of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed," health officials there worry a recent spike in deadly dengue cases in the country will continue to grow, the AP reports in a separate article.

"The country saw a dramatic spike in the number of fatal cases this year: 592 were recorded from January through October, an increase of 90 percent over the 312 dengue deaths recorded during the same period last year, according to figures released Thursday by the Ministry of Health. And the resurgence of the Type 1 dengue strain largely absent in Brazil since the 1990s means that cases could continue to rise, officials say, stretching an overtaxed health care system," the news service writes. "To Brazil's north, neighboring Venezuela has also been confronting a dengue epidemic with about 100,000 diagnosed cases so far this year compared with 40,000 during the same period last year, according to recent Health Ministry figures," the news service adds.

The article examines the areas at greatest risk, including Rio de Janeiro – "where the recent closure of a major suburban hospital and the scheduled shuttering of two more has raised concerns that there might not be enough medical resources to deal with an epidemic" – and the efforts the Brazilian government is taking to educate the public about how to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes to help contain the outbreak. The article includes comments by Luis Fernando Moraes, president of the Regional Council of Medicine of Rio de Janeiro, and Dan Epstein, a spokesman for the WHO (11/13).

In related news, a Miami health official on Friday confirmed its "first case of dengue fever in 50 years," Reuters reports. "The person diagnosed with the sometimes deadly mosquito-born virus has fully recovered after a brief hospitalization, said Liliana Rivera, a director at the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

Reuters writes that "[t]he case comes four months after officials announced more than 1,000 people in Key West, Florida, were believed to have been infected with dengue last year, marking its reemergence in the southeast U.S. state for the first time in decades." The piece notes that Florida health authorities have been on the watch for dengue outbreaks due to the recent dengue outbreaks in Latin America. Dengue "was largely eradicated in the United States in the 1940s but a few locally acquired cases have appeared, mostly along the Texas-Mexico border," according to Reuters (Gray, 11/12).

The Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report is published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2010 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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