PAHO calls for countries to prepare for possible outbreaks of dengue

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For the second time in recent months, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released a report calling for countries in the region of the Americas to prepare for a timely response to possible outbreaks of dengue.
Antigua and Barbuda, being one of the countries in the region to have been affected by the epidemic, must take heed of this call for vigilance.
The total number of dengue cases seen in Antigua and Barbuda between April 2018 and January 25, 2019, stands at 21, of which six have been confirmed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
In the report released by the organization, José Luis San Martin, PAHO’s regional advisor on dengue said, “The key is recognizing the warning signs early and providing the care required to prevent it progressing to more serious forms.”
PAHO said that if a physician is not sure whether a patient is presenting with dengue, Chikungunya or Zika, it recommends that the clinical management and treatment of dengue begins immediately, without waiting for a laboratory diagnosis. PAHO also recommends that the patient be monitored daily or at least every 48 hours in order to pick up on any serious warning signs, particularly during the critical phase of the disease
Dr. Marcos Espinal, Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health at PAHO’s Regional Office for the Americas explained that the timely diagnosis of the disease has become more complex with the arrival of two new arboviruses: The Chikungunya virus in 2013 and the Zika virus in 2015, which present similar symptomatology.
He said, “Its complexity has been increasing over the years due to several factors such as unplanned urban growth, water and sanitation problems, climate change, and, in some countries, the simultaneous circulation of all four types of dengue, which increases the risk of serious cases and outbreaks.”
PAHO said the disease since its reintroduction in the 1980s, has caused cyclical outbreaks and epidemics every three to five years and despite the introduction of these new arboviruses, dengue is the one that presents the highest number of diseases. It also added that the first dengue epidemic with over one million cases occurred in the Region in 2010.
Three years later, in 2013, the first epidemic with more than two million cases occurred. At the beginning of 2019, there was an increase in cases compared to the same period of 2018.
According to PAHO’s latest epidemiological update on dengue, published on February 22nd, 560,586 cases of dengue were reported in the region of the Americas last year, including 3,535 severe cases of dengue and 336 deaths. And, during the first six weeks of 2019, almost 100,000 cases of dengue were reported, including 632 cases of severe dengue and 28 deaths.

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