By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The water shortage crisis in the Southeastern region has created another type of disaster, according to Brazilian health officials. With the campaigns to save and store available water, the incidence of people contracting dengue, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, has surged. In January and February of 2015 the Health Ministry registered over 174,000 cases of dengue in the country, an increase of 139 percent over the first two months of 2014.
According to Brazil’s Health Minister, Arthur Chioro, the inadequate storage of water may be one of the factors that increased the proliferation of the mosquitoes carrying dengue.
“In many regions, due to the lack of water, people end up storing water inside their house [without proper safeguards],” says Minister Chioro. According to the health official, water is stored in containers and receptacles that are not property closed, making it easy for the mosquito that carries the disease to deposit their eggs and breed.
São Paulo state has been one of the most affected by dengue, with 55 percent of the registered cases. According to the state’s health department in the first two and a half months of 2015 over 56,000 cases of people infected with the disease have been confirmed in the state.
In the city of São Paulo there have been three dengue-related deaths. Health officials have sent out extra fumigating teams to abandoned lots and landfills (where water accumulates in old tires or recipients) and even to the city’s cemeteries, where potted plants left by visitors may hold water which attracts the dengue-carrying mosquitoes.