Yesterday we reported that a creepy hoax WhatsApp voice message had gone viral, warning of something close to a dengue apocalypse. And while we’re not at Walking Dead levels of the epidemic, it looks like dengue is definitely here to stay. At least, that’s what the country’s health authorities have warned today.
Speaking to La Red Radio this morning, Public Sanitation Secretary Néstor Pérez Baliño said that in his opinion, the current dengue epidemic will be much worse than the 2009 outbreak which caused 26,000 people to be infected and six deaths in total. At the time, newspapers reported that it was “the worst epidemic in Argentina’s history.”
In short, according to Baliño, “dengue is here to stay.”
He explained that changes in the country’s climate — what he termed a “subtropicalization” — help spread the disease.
In other (bad) news, this morning on Delta Radio, National Epidemics Director Jorge San Juan predicted dengue will reach its peak at the end of March, with the number of people infected potentially coming close to 20,000. He admitted that the seriousness of the situation had not been foreseen by health authorities, and even more worryingly, suggested that the vaccine available is not suitable for the different strains of the dengue infection that are present in Argentina. “The vaccine we have is not suitable for this country. It is administered in three different doses throughout a year and does not cover one of the strains [of the virus] that we have here.”
Dengue was officially declared an epidemic by the Health Ministry in January this year. The virus is transmitted by a kind of mosquito known as the Aedes aegypti, which is infected with one of the four dengue bacteria. Currently there are more than 10 million confirmed cases in Argentina and the virus has infected almost every province, according to Baliño. The most reported cases have been in Northern Argentina in the provinces of Formosa and Misiones, which border Paraguay and Brazil. This is due to the fact that the warm, damp climate there have allowed the mosquitos to breed and subsequently spread the virus more quickly and easily.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms range from mild fever to incapacitating fever and severe headache to muscle and joint pain and rashes. The most severe strain of the infection, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can be fatal.
To make matters worse, Health Minister Jorge Lemus recently confirmed that fumigation does not work to kill mosquito larvae or adults because they are already resistant to the chemicals in fumigants.
So if, like us, the government’s official prognosis doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence, you can try some of The Bubble’s homemade repellents, buy a mosquito-eating toad from Mercado Libre, or avoid them altogether by tracking down infected zones through an app on your smartphone.