Floods and Heat Cause Peru’s Worst-Ever Dengue Outbreak
Oasis de Huacachina in Ica, Peru

Peru is experiencing its worst-ever outbreak of dengue fever, with over 172,000 cases by Monday, according to the country’s health department.

Of these, over 92,000 are confirmed while almost 80,000 are suspected cases, with countrywide floods and increasing temperatures driving the outbreak.

The country has declared a health emergency in 222 districts. The north-western provinces of Piura and Lambayeque are worst affected, while the worst affected cities are Lima and Ica.

Some 228 people have been confirmed to have died from the viral infection that is transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitos. However, the fatality rate is expected to rise as health authorities investigate further deaths.

Peru’s caseload is already double that reported in the same period last year, and more than four times higher than the average of the last five years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, Argentina also experienced one of the largest dengue outbreaks in its history in the first three months of this year (dengue is most prevalent there between October and May). 

“The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically around the world in recent decades, especially in the Americas, which reported 2.8 million cases and 1,280 deaths last year,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing last week.

“The WHO is preparing for the very high probability that 2023 and 2024 will be marked by an El Nino event, which could increase transmission of dengue and other so-called arboviruses, such as Zika and chikungunya,” Tedros added.

“The effects of climate change are also fueling mosquito breeding and the spread of this disease.”

By 8 June, 2,162,214 cases and 974 dengue deaths have been reported globally, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina, in that order, had the highest caseloads.

Dengue is endemic in 129 countries, with 70% of cases in Asia. There are about 390 million infections per year, and there has been an 85% increase in cases between 1990 and 2019, according to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

Last year, the WHO launched the Global Arbovirus Initiative to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks of arthropod-borne viruses (Arboviruses) such as dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and Zika. Arboviruses are public health threats in tropical and sub-tropical areas where approximately 3.9 billion people live.

Image Credits: Wikipedia.

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