Dengue epidemic alert issued for Central America

The Panamerican Health Organization has released a dengue fever epidemic alert for coming months in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The mosquito-born virus has had the worst effect in Costa Rica’s central Pacific coastal, north central, Chorotega and Huetar Atlántica regions, according to the Health Ministry. Two cantons in the central Pacific had the highest number of cases in the past five weeks, according to the Health Ministry. Parrita reported 525 cases, while Pérez Zeledón reported 324 cases.

The Health Ministry reported the increase in dengue coincides with the rainy season, which typically lasts until November for most of the country.

The Panamerican Health Organization reported 346 deaths in the Americas from dengue during the previous week, and 868,653 cases.

Venezuela-based news channel Telesurtv reported in June that the number of cases in Costa Rica so far this year is four times that of the same period in 2012. El Pais reported that the government blamed the increase on a drought last summer that forced communities to import water in open receptacles. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the virus, lives and reproduces in standing water.

Symptoms of dengue begin with intense and continuous abdominal pain. The disease progresses with persistent vomiting and secretion of mucus. Victims feel irritable, restless, lethargic and faint when moving. Those suffering these symptoms need to seek immediate medical attention.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms appear between three days and two weeks after a bite from a mosquito. WHO said there is no antiviral medication for dengue, and the virus has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death for many countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

The Health Ministry reported the recent outbreak has occurred despite government attempts to control the virus, such as pesticides, community organizing and education campaigns.