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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Central American Countries Declare Emergency as Dengue Cases Soar

At least 35 people have died in Central America so far this year due to dengue, leading several countries in the region to declare a state of emergency, local health authorities reported on Friday.

Guatemala is the most affected country in Central America, with 12 deaths and 18,256 cases recorded since the beginning of the year, which is five times the number reported in the same period of 2023 (3,189 cases). More than half of the patients are under 15 years old.

In Honduras, authorities have recorded 16,400 cases and 11 deaths in 2024, prompting the government to declare a state of “maximum alert.” Meanwhile, in Panama, the Ministry of Health reported 4,479 cases and 12 deaths on Friday.

The authorities in Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have not reported any deaths so far, but cases are in the thousands. In response to the wave of cases, authorities are conducting massive fumigations in several towns across these countries to eradicate the “Aedes aegypti” mosquito, which transmits the disease.

In Guatemala, on April 30, the government of President Bernardo Arévalo declared a national health emergency due to the increase in dengue cases.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Latin America and the Caribbean will likely experience their “worst dengue season” this year, favored by the combination of the El Niño phenomenon and climate change.

Dengue is an endemic disease in tropical areas that causes high fevers, headaches, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and, in the most severe cases, hemorrhages that can cause death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in April 2023 that dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases are spreading much more widely and farther from their usual areas due to the effects of climate change.

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