By Felicia Bryson, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – According to the latest report published by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, there have been 7,030 cases of dengue in the municipality of Rio since the beginning of the year, among them four deaths were registered. Major news publisher O Globo reported that in just three months, the city had 8,315 reports of dengue, more than the total of the years 2009 and 2010 combined (5,843).
The number of Rio neighborhoods in which dengue cases are being reported is rising as well. The updated figures indicate that the number of locations with an incidence rate above 300 cases for each group of 100,000 inhabitants, has gone up from nine to 13 in one week.
Although this does not come as good news, overall this is an improvement. From February 26, 2010 until the same day this year 155,613 cases were reported nationwide, 37 percent lower than the previous year. Close to 15,000 of these were reported in the state of Rio alone.
The most affected regions in Brazil are the Northeast with 18.4 percent (28,653 notifications) and the Southeast with 27 percent (42,092 cases). Amazonas, Acre, Paraná, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais were the states in which the majority of cases (53 percent) were documented.
Spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, dengue fever is common in Asian and Latin American countries. Common symptoms include high fever, joint pains and nausea. In severe cases, caused by the more aggressive haemorrhagic dengue, it can lead to internal bleeding, liver enlargement, circulatory shutdown and death.
The worst recorded years were 1998, 2002 and 2008, which forced the Brazilian government to take measures on combating the disease, especially in favela communities with little or no running water.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito looks for clean, still-standing water such as in open water bottles, buckets, potted plants and on dishes or water tanks for its larvae. The rainy season during the summer therefore provides the ideal circumstances for the mosquito’s reproduction.
The State Department of Health and Civil Defence (Sesdec) has developed a series of campaigns to curb the increasing cases of the disease and prevent possible deaths in RIo, besides the implementation of the Dengue Monitoring Panel. Reference centers for the care of dengue have been created and installed in the Northwest and in Baixada Fluminense, in Rio State where people with symptoms can receive consultations and be treated.
“Although most states do not have a high incidence of the disease, it is necessary for preventive care to be maintained and intensified since the the rainy season is not over in many states. Therefore, we must remain in a state of alert,” said Secretary of Health Surveillance, Jarbas Barbosa.
The government has also helped to create awareness with their campaign Rio Contra Dengue, which offers information on dengue fever as well as a call center hotline for every region in the state of Rio.
However, a depot close to the Rodoviária Novo Rio (bus station) in the neighborhood of Santo Cristo, close to Rio’s City Hall, is being used by the government to store confiscated gambling machines, which have been exposed to rain, creating a breeding ground for dengue mosquitoes.
According to the police the area has been fumigated but some people still believe that these kind of situations should be taken more seriously. “I pass by these machines every day and always think how dengue mosquitoes must love that place”, says Luiz Felipe da Gama Cruz Jr., a local resident.