By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio registered its first case of Type 4 dengue fever in almost thirty years on Friday, the case occurred in the West Zone of the city. Doctors are concerned that the re-emergence of the strain, which was thought to have been eradicated from Brazil in the 1980s, could lead to a future epidemic of the disease, although they stress that it is unlikely to occur this year.
According to experts, the Type 4 strain is no more harmful than the more common types 1, 2 and 3. However, the major concern is that, while a significant percentage of the population is immune to the first three strains due to previous exposure to the virus, very few people will be immune to this latest strain.
Marcos Lago, an assistant professor of pediatrics and infectious disease specialist at UERJ, told O GLobo, “There is the potential for an epidemic. I don’t want to say that this will happen this year. In May, June, when the weather cools down, the mosquito will stop circulating. But the larvae stay alive for a year. The danger will return next year.”
He warns, “Only a massive campaign could reverse the situation.”
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so authorities recommend keeping water tanks and garbage containers tightly closed, clearing debris from roofs to allow proper drainage, and scattering sand on areas that collect moisture, like the dishes under potted plants.
On an individual level, preventing dengue means wearing insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon or eucalyptus, or IR3535, and sleeping under a mosquito net. Travelers are advised to stay in hotels or hostels that are air conditioned or well screened, and periodically sprayed with insecticide.
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