Latin America Faces Dengue Outbreak Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has become the unpopular focus of the world right now in terms of health, overshadowing other serious illnesses. Among them include Dengue (breakbone fever) that is equally deadly if not addressed. And according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), high rates of dengue is expected to come this year.

It is another concern that people must face, particularly in Latin America. The epidemic started in 2018 and remains a threat. The number of people infected by dengue surged to an incredible 3.1 million in 2019, resulting in 1,500 deaths in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to PAHO in a report from Reuters.

For now, the star of the show is COVID-19, according to Doctor Jaime Gomez, who works at a hospital in Floridablanca, in Colombia's Santander province. Also, it would be best to take note that dengue cases usually decline by the second half of the year.

Seeing how we are now in May, the next couple of months may need to be monitored for dengue, a disease that is spread by mosquitoes. However, it should be noted as well that dengue has four strains. This means that some individuals may catch it more than once with the second case likely to be more severe.

Like the coronavirus, a second infection is possible. But the difference is that it is not life-threatening compared to COVID-19. The Gulf News pointed out how it can be treated with painkillers. Folks dealing with severe dengue are treated with intravenous fluids and those who do not get tested are at risk of dangerous complications.

But the main problem is the proper diagnosis. This means that people are wary of going to the hospital for fear of contracting COVID-19. It gets even worse in some cases, especially if hospitals are filled. Some are turned away and that could lead to dire consequences.

The numbers in Latin America regions provide a better picture of what dengue has been quietly doing. In Paraguay, there are over 42,710 cases with 64 deaths reported. Over in Ecuador, dengue cases spiked to 888 in the week ending Mar. 14, two weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the country. The numbers fell to 257 for the week of Apr. 4.

"Very clearly dengue is being under-reported," Esteban Ortiz, a global health researcher at Quito's University of the Americas said. "Cases haven't decreased, the diagnosis of cases has decreased, which confirms the system has totally collapsed."

dengue mosquito The World Health Organization (WHO) said dengue affects 50 million to 100 million people every year across the world. Pixabay