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Brazil’s Deadly Dengue Fever Crisis Worst Year on Record

Daniel Kim Views  

Brazil has reported record numbers of deaths and infections from dengue fever. Although the country’s Ministry of Health reports that the spread of the disease has slowed recently, there is still concern that the number of infections and deaths could continue to increase.

According to official data released by the Ministry of Health on the 2nd (local time), 2073 people have died from dengue fever in Brazil this year. This number is nearly twice the previous record of 1094 deaths set last year, making this year the deadliest on record for dengue fever in the country.

The severity of dengue fever becomes even more apparent when comparing different periods. Compared to the 671 deaths recorded from January to April last year, the number of deaths in the same period this year has more than tripled. The Ministry of Health stated, “We are still determining the exact cause of death for 2291 people who are suspected of having died from dengue fever, so the number of deaths could still increase.”

This year, dengue fever infections have also long surpassed the previous record. According to the Ministry of Health, the total number of dengue fever infections across Brazil has exceeded 4.1 million. If suspected cases are included, the number approaches 4.2 million. Compared to the previous record of 1.6 million in 2015, the number of dengue fever infections this year was nearly 150% higher. The Ministry of Health estimates that the number of infections could reach 4.4 million this year.

Brazil, located in the southern hemisphere, is entering its summer season. While the country does not experience distinct seasonal changes like neighboring countries Argentina and Chile, where heavy snowfall occurs in winter, the spread of dengue fever could slow down as the heat subsides. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health remains vigilant.

During a briefing, Eteu Masiu, Director of Disease Surveillance at the Ministry of Health, said, “We can compare the dengue fever to climbing a mountain. We are in the phase of descending from the peak, but just as accidents causing many injuries and deaths can occur during the descent, we could still see many more infections and deaths, so we cannot let our guard down.”

Experts explain that the increase in dengue fever cases this year was mainly due to the effects of El Nino. As temperatures rose and there were more rainy days, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the dengue fever virus, had optimal conditions to reproduce.

Brazil was the first country in the world to administer a dengue fever vaccine. This happened in February of this year, ahead of the Rio Carnival. Brazil urgently imported 5.2 million doses of the dengue fever vaccine ‘Q-Deng,’ developed by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and administered them at Brasilia public hospitals and health centers. In addition, Takeda Pharmaceutical separately donated 1.32 million vaccine doses to Brazil.

However, the supply was severely insufficient compared to the country’s population of over 215 million. Hence, the Brazilian government limited the vaccine to those aged 10 to 14, with the highest number of dengue fever infections.

Local media reported, “The decision to limit the vaccine to a certain age group due to the small supply was inevitable, and with so few people having received the vaccine, it’s meaningless to evaluate its effectiveness.”

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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