PERU — Peru has declared a “health emergency” due to an outbreak of dengue fever in 13 departments in the country’s north, center, and southeast.

The emergency will remain in place for 90 days. As of 2023, the health ministry recorded more than 11,500 cases and 16 deaths due to the disease, which represents a 72 percent increase from the same period in 2022.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease that can cause a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle, and joint pain, and in severe cases, death.

Last year, Peru had more than 72,800 dengue cases and 84 deaths. Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes.

The disease is prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas, including parts of Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Symptoms of dengue fever usually appear within 3 to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, but early recognition and management of the disease can reduce the risk of complications and death.

The most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to control the mosquito population by eliminating breeding sites, using insecticides, and wearing protective clothing to avoid mosquito bites.

In addition to Peru, neighboring Bolivia has also declared a health alert due to an outbreak of dengue fever. As of the declaration, Bolivia recorded more than 6,800 cases and 26 deaths.

The outbreak underscores the importance of continued efforts to prevent the spread of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Meanwhile, climate change is driving a surge in mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika in Pacific Island nations, as per Aljazeera.

The impact of climate change on mosquito-borne diseases has prompted a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Malaria and dengue fever have been identified as the most prevalent diseases associated with unpredictable weather patterns, with cases of zika virus and chikungunya also expected to rise.

The Pacific Islands have already reported a surge in malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever due to climate change.

Dengue fever is of particular concern as it can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever and death, while Zika has been linked to congenital defects in babies.

Data shows that from 2012 to 2021, there have been at least 69 outbreaks of dengue fever, 15 of chikungunya, and 12 of zika virus. Moreover, malaria cases have increased by 20% from 2015 to 2021.

Vector-borne diseases are climate-sensitive and tend to emerge after disasters, cyclones, and during periods of rising temperatures.

Climate change is an important factor and without new strategies to control mosquitoes, outbreaks of vector-borne diseases in the Pacific will likely become more frequent and larger.

Two vaccines approved for dengue fever

The approval of Takeda’s dengue fever vaccine, Qdenga, by the European Union marks the second vaccine to prevent the disease to be approved by the bloc.

The significance of having two vaccines lies in the fact that dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that infects millions of people each year, and over 80% of cases are mild or asymptomatic.

Qdenga, unlike Dengvaxia, can be given to people aged four and above regardless of their virus exposure history, which widens the target population for vaccination.

Dengvaxia was previously only available in the European Union for those who have had a previously confirmed infection.

The increase in the number of reported dengue cases in the last two decades, coupled with half of the world’s population at risk, highlights the importance of having multiple vaccines available for this disease.

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