Caribbean, Latin America Report Record Dengue Cases

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Latin America and the Caribbean has reported 9.3 million cases of dengue so far this year, twice the number of cases reported in all of 2023.

However, according to the latest epidemiological update issued this week by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the fatality rate remains below the regional goal of 0.05%.

“While we are seeing a notable increase in the number of dengue cases in the region this year, it is important to highlight that the proportion of cases that progress to death remains low thanks to countries’ efforts and the support of PAHO,” PAHO Director Jarbas Barbosa said. “This situation highlights the importance of sustaining surveillance, strengthening prevention and control measures, and ensuring timely medical care,” he added.

In 2024 so far, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have reported more than 9,500 cases of severe dengue (0.10%) and just over 4,500 deaths (fatality rate of 0.048%).

Compared to the same period in 2023, all countries recorded increases in cases.

This can be attributed to several factors, including territorial expansion of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, its main vector, which has expanded its range to areas where it was not present before, potentially due to factors such as El Niño and climate change.

In addition, rapid unplanned urban expansion and population growth, combined with poor water and sanitation services, have created favorable conditions for the proliferation of mosquitoes in discarded objects and containers that accumulate water.

Furthermore, limited contact between humans and the dengue virus, due to reduced exposure from confinement measures and travel restrictions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, may have increased the number of susceptible people.

PAHO works closely with the countries and territories of the region to implement comprehensive dengue prevention and control plans.

These plans are based on PAHO’s Integrated Management Strategy for Arbovirus Disease Prevention and Control, adopted by PAHO Member States since 2003, which includes measures such as intersectoral coordination, strengthening epidemiological surveillance, improving timely clinical management, and integrated management of Aedes aegypti, with a cross-cutting focus on communication and community participation.

To strengthen the capacities of health personnel in the clinical diagnosis and management of patients with dengue, PAHO has supported face-to-face and virtual training courses – through its Virtual Campus for Public Health. This has benefited more than 430,000 professionals and students of medicine and nursing in the region.

As the peak season for dengue circulation approaches in the northern hemisphere, PAHO urges countries and territories to redouble their efforts in detecting and preventing cases.

Governments should raise community awareness about eliminating breeding sites, adopt personal protective measures to avoid mosquito bites, and ensure timely and appropriate medical care for patients.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention at any sign of alarm and take personal protective measures to prevent mosquito bites

PAHO also invites countries and the community, especially in Central America and the Caribbean, to join the Mosquito Awareness Week.

Under the slogan United for Health, this initiative seeks to raise awareness and involve the population in the prevention and control of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

SOURCE: Pan American Health Organization