Rio de Janeiro has declared a state of emergency amid rising dengue cases, just as millions of tourists are arriving in Brazil for the city’s famous carnival.
Meanwhile, Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, opened an emergency operations center on Tuesday to deal with the rising number of infections.
Cases of this mosquito-borne disease have also increased sharply in Argentina, where a record 10,000 cases were reported in the first three weeks of the year.
Meanwhile, Paraguay has declared a health emergency due to dengue. It has recorded 36 deaths since December, including 12 children, officials there said.
Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency on Monday, four days before the official opening of its famous carnival.
Rio de Janeiro has declared a state of emergency amid rising dengue cases, just as millions of tourists are arriving in Brazil for the city’s famous carnival. Pictured: A health worker sprays against mosquitoes in Brazil, February 2.
Authorities announced the opening of 10 dedicated treatment centers to relieve pressure on Rio’s overwhelmed hospitals.
Authorities will also use ‘smoke cars’ in regions with the highest incidence of cases, diffusing an insecticide into the air.
‘It’s good that they have opened this center. Hospitals cannot deal with the situation alone,” Luciana Ferreira, a patient in the working-class neighborhood of Curicica, told AFP.
Since the beginning of 2024, the municipality has registered more than 10,000 cases of dengue. This is just under half of the total cases (23,000) recorded throughout 2023.
The announcement comes as tourists and revelers are flocking to Rio to take part in street parties and attend extravagant samba school parades.
Among the operational plans of the state of Rio for Carnival, presented on Monday by Governor Cláudio Castro, is the campaign “Against dengue every day.”
This will involve the distribution of repellents, stickers, handkerchiefs and hats with warnings about the disease to the public at the Sambadrome, where a 15-second warning about the fight against infection will also be projected.
Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency on Monday, four days before the official opening of its famous carnival, where millions of people will descend on the city.
Among the operational plans of the state of Rio for Carnival, presented on Monday by Governor Cláudio Castro, is the campaign “Against dengue every day”
Dengue is a viral infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes and is most common in tropical climates.
Frequent rains and high temperatures, which accelerate the hatching of mosquito eggs and the development of larvae, make the famously warm city of Rio susceptible to dengue outbreaks.
But the problem is national. The explosion of dengue cases throughout Brazil has caused at least four states (Acre, Minas Gerais and Goias, in addition to the Federal District) to declare public health emergencies.
The capital, Brasilia, has opened an emergency field hospital.
Thirty-one people have died from dengue, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, which is still analyzing another 234 deaths that may also have been caused by the disease.
Sao Paulo is testing a drone that uses larvicide to combat mosquitoes in hard-to-reach areas.
A patient is taken to a hospital after receiving medical attention at a makeshift military aid post set up to treat suspected cases of dengue in Brazil, February 6.
Patients attend a makeshift military aid post set up to treat suspected dengue cases in the administrative region of Ceilandia, outside Brasilia, on February 6.
A doctor treats a patient at the dengue emergency medical care unit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 6.
Brazil plans to start a public dengue vaccination campaign this month, although a lack of doses from the vaccine’s maker, Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda, means it will only target children aged 10 to 14.
Brazil’s government says it is studying options to produce a dengue vaccine domestically.
In March 2023, Brazil approved a dengue vaccine and became the first country in the world to offer a dengue vaccine through the public health system, according to the Ministry of Health.
More than 3 million people were due to receive a vaccine in 2024.
On Monday, the Brazilian air force set up a 60-bed field hospital in the Federal District, Ceilandia, which was to begin treating patients.
“Our goal is to relieve emergency care units in the region, given that today the Federal District represents around 20 percent of dengue cases in the country,” said Air Force commander Lt. Brig. Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno said in a statement.
Dengue, which can cause hemorrhagic fever, infects between 100 and 400 million people each year, although most cases are mild or asymptomatic, according to the World Health Organization.
Most people who contract dengue do not develop symptoms, but if they do, they may include high fever, headache, body aches, nausea and rash, according to the World Health Organization.
A municipal worker fumigates during an operation aimed at eradicating the Aedes aegypti mosquito – which transmits dengue – in Asunción, Paraguay, on January 26.
While most improve after about a week, some develop a severe form and require hospitalization. In such cases, dengue can be fatal.
Climate change, which causes rising temperatures and increased rainfall, is associated with an increased risk of dengue, the WHO said in December.
The mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, urged the “cariocas” – as Rio residents are known – to eliminate sources of stagnant water, used by mosquitoes as breeding grounds.
“Unlike the COVID-19 pandemic, where individual citizens could not do much more than demand that governments receive the vaccine, in the case of dengue a lot depends on the action of each citizen,” Paes said.