By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The city of São Paulo’s public health system has started offering a fast test for dengue, which can detect the virus within twenty minutes, according to city officials. The city’s health department announced that fifty thousand tests were purchased at a cost of more than one million reais.
“The fast test is a strategy of the city and an important took to speed up and direct actions geared towards stopping transmission,” stated Alexandre Padilha, the city’s health secretary.
The test, which is similar to those to detect pregnancy, will help health providers to detect if someone is carrying the dengue virus within minutes. Unlike the fast pregnancy tests on the market today, the dengue test will use the patient’s blood instead of urine.
According to the São Paulo Municipal Health Department the tests will be available in all health units at the beginning of March. If the patient tests positive for the dengue virus, another blood test will be taken to further determine the health condition of the patient. The test will detect the four types of dengue virus currently active in Brazil. In December the National Health Service in Brazil (ANVISA) approved the registration of the first vaccine against dengue fever in the country.
In 2015 São Paulo state registered dengue epidemics in several cities, including in the Metropolitan region of São Paulo City. According to the city’s health department, in the 2014-2015 summer season, which runs from December to March, nearly one hundred thousand people were diagnosed with dengue in São Paulo’s metropolitan region. The dengue epidemic in the region, however, did not end with the end of summer, extending well into the middle of the year.
Unable to cope with the flood of patients and lack of hospital beds, six outdoor tents were set up in April throughout the city to diagnose and start preliminary care of those infected. Because of the several days needed to diagnose dengue fever, patients stayed in the hospital or health units until their condition was known.