A surge in cases of dengue fever in Brazil’s hot rainy season has prompted emergency measures and mass vaccination efforts to combat the mosquito-borne illness. The health ministry reported 364,855 cases of infection in the first five weeks of this year, a fourfold increase compared to the same period in 2023. The rapid spread of dengue has resulted in 40 confirmed deaths, with a further 265 under investigation.
To address the outbreak, Brazil has purchased 5.2 million doses of the dengue vaccine Qdenga and received an additional 1.32 million doses at no cost. Three Brazilian states, including the Federal District where the capital, Brasília, is located, have declared emergencies due to the surge in dengue cases. In response, Brasília has initiated mass vaccinations for children aged 10-14, and army troops have been deployed to track mosquito breeding spots.
In addition to Brasília, other cities preparing to celebrate Carnival have implemented measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic. The health ministry has also established an emergency center to coordinate nationwide dengue control operations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, Tedros Adhanom, attributed the dengue outbreak in Brazil to the El Niño phenomenon, which has brought increased rainfall to the country. South America is experiencing a surge in dengue cases during the southern hemisphere summer, exacerbated by rising temperatures and the El Niño weather pattern in the Pacific.
Dengue fever, characterized by symptoms such as high fever, headache, vomiting, and muscle and joint pains, poses a significant public health concern. In severe cases, the disease can lead to hemorrhagic fever and potentially death. The current outbreak in Brazil reflects a global increase in dengue fever cases, with over 500 million reported cases and more than 5,000 deaths worldwide in the previous year alone.