Peru declares dengue fever health emergency while Ecuador monitors rising infections

Feb 27, 2024 | 0 comments

Peru declared a health emergency in most of its provinces on Monday due to a growing number of dengue cases that are occurring at a time of higher than usual temperatures caused by the El Nino weather pattern.

The Aedys Egypti mosquito

In neighboring Ecuador, dengue infections are also on the rise although the government has not yet declared an emergency. Its Ministry of Health says it is monitoring the situation on a “day-to-day basis.”

According to Peru’s health ministry, the number of dengue cases reported during the first seven weeks of this year is twice as high as during the same period in 2023 – with more than 31,000 cases recorded.

Ecuador has seen a four-fold increase in cases since 2023, with the current count standing at 5,550. Health workers are going door-to-door in hard-hit coastal communities advising residents how to protect themselves.

“This is a very grave problem,” Peru Health Minister Cesar Vásquez said last week, before the emergency was declared. “And it is getting worse by the day.”

The health emergency will enable Peru’s government to transfer funds more quickly to affected regions and also transport doctors and nurses. It will cover 20 of the country’s 24 provinces, including regions that surround the capital city of Lima.
A dengue epidemic last year put Peru’s public health system under strain as thousands sought care in emergency rooms. The disease is spread by Aedys Egypti, a mosquito that reproduces in hot and humid conditions.

Although most dengue cases present light symptoms, the disease can cause severe headaches, fevers and muscle pains.
Last year, a dengue epidemic in Peru killed 18 people, while in the first two months of this year 32 Peruvians have died from the virus.

Six deaths have been reported in Ecuador.

In December, the World Health Organization said that Peru’s 2023 dengue epidemic was linked to rains and hot temperatures that helped mosquito populations to grow, especially in the north of the country.

The Andean region of both Peru and Ecuador has not been affected by the outbreak as the Aedys Egypti mosquito cannot survive at elevations above 1,850 meters (6,000 feet).

Although the first dengue vaccine was developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda in late 2023, health officials in both Peru and Ecuador say they have received few doses so far.

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