The enthralling climax of the world-renowned Carnival is fast approaching in the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, the city’s authorities have been compelled to declare a state of health emergency. This drastic measure has been implemented in a bid to control and contain the escalating spread of a potentially fatal disease, dengue fever. This information has been reported by the globally recognized news outlet, the BBC.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that has seen a staggering increase in cases within Brazil. In January, the number of reported cases was four times higher than those reported during the same month in the previous year. The city of Rio de Janeiro has been particularly hard hit. So far, this year, the city has documented 10,000 cases. To put this into perspective, this figure is almost half of the total number of cases recorded for the entire year of 2023, which stood at 23,000. Dengue fever is a serious illness that can lead to symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and an identifiable patchy rash.
In response to the escalating health crisis, a dengue vaccine was developed by Takeda, a Japanese pharmaceutical company. This vaccine was approved by Brazil’s health regulator last year. However, it has not yet been distributed widely across the country. Eder Gatti, a representative from Brazil’s Health Ministry, disclosed that the public health service has only received a limited number of doses from the Japanese laboratory. Consequently, the government has decided to prioritize larger municipalities that are experiencing high rates of dengue transmission.
In addition to these measures, the city hall of Rio has announced plans to open ten new treatment centers specifically for dengue patients. The city’s health secretary, Daniel Soranz, stated that the primary objective of these centers is to decrease the number of severe cases and fatalities caused by the infection. He added, “Early treatment makes a difference”.
Health officials are also strongly encouraging the public to take proactive steps to prevent mosquito bites by regularly applying repellent. The Brazilian Health Minister, Ni’sia Trindade, appealed to the public to thoroughly check their homes and eliminate all standing water. This is because mosquitoes, the carriers of dengue, breed in these conditions. The declaration of a health emergency owing to the surge in dengue cases is not unique to Rio. Other regions, including the federal district and the states of Minas Gerais, Acre, and Goiàs, have also declared health emergencies in the recent weeks due to a similar rise in dengue cases.