Peru’s Amazonian region battle dengue fever outbreak
The epidemic of dengue fever in Latin America was enormous in 2012 with some 161,000 people infected with the mosquito borne virus.
In Peru, there has been 21,000 dengue cases, or 18 percent of the total, plus at least 32 fatalities in the country, according to an Al Jazeera report Dec. 31.
Many patients stricken with the potentially lethal virus come from the rural Amazonian region, where in these jungle areas, people are most vulnerable to the disease.
The report notes that at least one hospital in the region is seeing 30 to 40 new dengue patients daily.
Dr. Cayo Leveau, a professor of epidemiology tells Al Jazeera, “We (the Amazonian region) are more vulnerable to being infected with dengue because we have had epidemics since 1990. So every time one gets ill, one is more prone to getting ill with dengue, with a higher level of severity”.
Homes are being fumigated, some 70,000, in an effort to control the mosquito vector of the virus. In addition, educational campaigns have been instituted to advise to people to seek medical attention if they get sick.
The region also battles stagnant water where the mosquito vector breeds. Villagers are taught to clear out stagnant water from their own backyards.
The epidemic may only get worse in the area as the rainy season begins.
Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called “break-bone fever” because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking.
Dengue fever of multiple types is found in most countries of the tropics and subtropics particularly during and after rainy season.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate 100 million cases annually with an increase in the amount of epidemics reported in many parts of the world in recent years.
There are four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4.
People get the dengue virus from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It is not contagious from person to person.
There are three types of dengue fever in order of less severe to most: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
The symptoms of classic dengue usually start within a week after being infected. They include very high fever, up to 105°F, severe headache, pain behind the eye, severe joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting and a rash.
In cases of DHF and DSS, all four types can be the cause in descending order of frequency; type 2, 3, 4 and 1.
There is evidence that types 2 and 4 need to be secondary infection to cause DHF, while primary infection with types 1 and 3 can cause DHF.
Symptoms of DHF include all the symptoms of classic dengue plus severe damage to the blood vessels. Bleeding from the nose, gums or under the skin are common. This form of dengue can be fatal.
Symptoms of DSS include all of the above symptoms plus; fluid leaking outside of blood vessels, massive bleeding and shock. This form of the disease usually happens in children experiencing their second infection.
Two-third of all fatalities occurs among children.
There is no treatment for dengue, just treat the symptoms. Persons who think they have dengue should use analgesics (pain relievers) with acetaminophen and avoid those containing aspirin. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician.
There is not a vaccine for dengue fever.
Currently, the best preventive measure is to avoid mosquito bites.
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