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Government issues emergency decree as epidemic persists: 'We are in a critical situation'

The number of infections has also tripled compared to 2023 at 135,000.

The number of infections has also tripled compared to 2023 at 135,000.

Photo Credit: iStock

The government of Peru has issued an emergency decree after deaths from dengue infections have more than tripled early in the year.

What's happening? 

Reuters reported that Peru President Dina Boluarte approved "extraordinary economic measures" to slow down the dengue epidemic, which has been ravaging the Americas since the beginning of 2024. 

Peru's health ministry said that dengue was the official cause of death for 117 people as of April 11. At the same time last year, the total had only climbed to 33. The number of infections has also tripled compared to 2023 at 135,000. 

"We are in a critical situation in Latin America," University of Lima epidemiologist Augusto Tarazona told the news outlet, noting that Peru had higher infection and mortality rates than Argentina and Brazil. 

Why is this concerning? 

Tarazona explained to Reuters that Peru is finding dengue infections in places where it previously would not spread. 

The disease is mainly spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which — like other species of disease-carrying mosquitoes — has increased its range as temperatures on our planet have risen because of human activities, like the burning of dirty fuels

"The mosquito has been adapting to climate change and is reproducing at a faster rate than in previous years," Tarazona said

According to the World Health Organization, there was a 400% increase in dengue infections from 2000 to 2013. The disease, also known as "break-bone fever," can cause fever, rash, headache, and nausea, and it is more dangerous the second time around.

More severe symptoms include bleeding gums or nose, weakness, and severe abdominal pain.

What can be done about this epidemic? 

Officials in Lima, Peru, have begun fumigation efforts in poor neighborhoods that have been heavily impacted by dengue, as reported by Reuters. 

Meanwhile, in Brazil — which has also been grappling with a surge of cases — bacteria-infected mosquitoes are being used to fight the outbreak. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the vaccine for dengue is only recommended for people who have already had an infection. Still, there are ways people can protect themselves from the disease. 

Using insect repellent, ensuring that windows and doors have screens, and wearing clothing that covers your arms and legs are some of the preventative measures the WHO recommends.

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