- The Brazilian municipality of Rio de Janeiro has declared a public health emergency due to an outbreak of dengue fever and announced special measures to contain the illness, just as tourists and revelers flock to the city for Carnival celebrations, which kicks off Friday evening.1
- As of Thursday, confirmed cases in Rio surpassed 14.9K this year alone, compared to roughly 22.9K cases throughout all of 2023, with hospitalizations in January reaching 362 — the highest record since 1974 — and one fatality reported.2
- The states of Acre, Goiás, and Minas Gerais, as well as the Federal District, have also declared public health emergencies amid a surge in dengue cases nationwide. Brazil's Health Ministry has reported nearly 400K probable cases so far in 2024, with 54 confirmed deaths.3
- In Brasília, where cases have already surpassed the total for last year and vaccination for children aged 10-14 was slated to start on Friday, the military has been deployed to help monitor stagnant-water breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the disease.4
- Known as 'breakbone fever' for the pain it causes, dengue is spread via infected female mosquitoes. About a quarter of those infected will get sick, of which some 5% will develop a potentially fatal severe dengue.5
- Cases of the illness have also soared elsewhere in South America. Argentina has seen a record-high of 10K cases in the first three weeks of the year, while Paraguay has declared a health emergency with 36 deaths — including 12 children — since December.6
Sources: 1NBC, 2Folha de S.Paulo, 3Agência Brasil, 4The Telegraph, 5Forbes and 6Daily Mail.
- Narrative A, as provided by Voice of America. While several factors, such as population growth, do facilitate the spread of this mosquito-borne disease, climate change is the main driver of the worldwide spike in dengue cases. As humidity, rainfall, and temperatures have increased, mosquitoes are growing and incubating the virus faster.
- Narrative B, as provided by Economist. While allegations that climate change and new weather patterns are to blame for mounting outbreaks of dengue fever offer a simple explanation that's comfortable both for those in power and ordinary citizens, this disease could have long been eradicated. It takes only some proactive, preventive measures to address this issue once and for all.