RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes, has declared a state of public health emergency due to a dengue epidemic, as reported by CNN Brasil. The surge in dengue cases comes as Rio and the rest of the country gear up for carnival celebrations, where millions of people pour onto the streets for parades and block parties. The carnival and official holidays are set to start on Friday and go through next Wednesday.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus spread primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry other viruses such as yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika. Worldwide, up to 400 million people are infected with dengue each year, making it the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rio’s city health network had 362 people hospitalized due to dengue in January alone, a record number surpassing the previous high from 2008. Data from the Rio de Janeiro City Council’s Epidemiological Observatory panel shows that 11,202 cases have already been registered in 2024. Throughout 2023, there were a total of 22,959 cases. Last Friday, the Rio’s Municipal Health Secretary Daniel Soranz said Rio was facing an epidemic of the disease and that, “In a single month of 2024, we already have almost half the cases of the entire previous year, which generated intense concern.”
To combat the disease, the Municipal Health Department is planning to vaccinate children as soon as the vaccines are released by the Ministry of Health. The expectation is that within a week, the entire population will be vaccinated, which represents 354,000 children. It is important to note that only a quarter of people infected with dengue will have symptoms, including fever, nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains, typically behind the eyes, or muscle, joint, or bone pain.
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue, but taking acetaminophen can ease the pain and fever. The state of public health emergency was declared to address the concerning rise in dengue cases as the city prepares for mass gatherings during the carnival celebrations. This situation underscores the importance of immediate and comprehensive measures to control the spread of the disease and protect the population.