Dengue Epidemic CA_AP_Aug 12 2013

The number of cases of Dengue – also known as breakbone fever – in the country continues to grow, reaching almost 27,000 cases so far this year and health officials fear it could skyrocket in the coming weeks.

Dr. Daisy Corrales Díaz, the ministra de Salud announced on Friday a contingency plan to win the battle.

An army of health officials will be visiting the most affect communities to eliminate breeding sites, fumigate and deliver information to residents.

The first communities on the list was La Carpio and the Triángulo de la Solidaridad in San José, with visits in the coming weeks reaching Nicoya, Nandayure, Heredia and Perez Zeledon.

Education Minister Leonardo Garnier earlier in the week announced that students from public schools across the country would collect and dispose of objects that could trap stagnant water in schools and in neighbouring buildings.

But, to win the battle completely, it all depends on all of us, in eliminating sources like stagnant water where the  Aedes aegypti mosquito, a carrier of the dengue virus, can continue to reproduce.

Cleaning up around your home, eliminating any and all sources of stagnant water, like bottles, tires and flower pots, etc.
Health officials are also considering issuing fines to residents who fail to clean up stagnant water around homes.

According to the latest report from the Pan-American Health Organization, Costa Rica leads Central America in the number of dengue cases this year, where more than 120,000 suspected cases have reported so far in the season,  as thee number of cases already is about to surpass the total for all of 2012 in the seven countries from Guatemala to Panama. At least 39 people have died so far, more than the 32 for all of 2012.

The disease is endemic to the region, but cases tend to surge every three to five years, and the Pan-American Health Organization says this year’s looks unusually bad. Perhaps the worst major outbreak in the Americas was in 2010, when 132 people in Central America died.

Honduras and El Salvador have declared health emergencies to channel extra funds and efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.

At least 17 people have died in Honduras, where more than half the municipalities have registered dengue cases.

Most of Nicaragua’s 2,000 cases, including six deaths, are concentrated on the border with Honduras, which has reported nearly 18,000 cases so far, compared with 15,000 for all of 2012.

There is no vaccine or cure for dengue. Treatments can mirror those for standard flu symptoms or can be more extensive for patients who have to be hospitalized. People contracting the most severe type, hemorrhagic dengue, can experience severe pain, breathing difficulties, bleeding and even circulatory failure.