Dengue activity in the Americas already outpacing last year's surge

Aedes aegypti

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After record dengue activity in 2023 in the Americas, the brisk pace of new infections showed no let-up in the first 5 weeks of the new year, with 11 countries reporting rising cases and Brazil among the hardest-hit nations.

In its latest epidemiologic alert, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said cases have increased 157% compared to the same period in 2023 and are 225% above the 5-year average.

Rising cases in 11 countries

After reporting record cases that topped 4.5 million last year, countries in the Americas have already recorded more than 673,000 dengue infections in the first 5 weeks of 2024, including 700 severe cases and 102 deaths. Countries reporting increases this year are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru.

Two thirds of this year's cases are from Brazil, where more than 455,000 dengue infections have been reported.

All four serotypes are circulating in the Americas region this year, with proportions that vary by country. However, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico are seeing circulating of all four serotypes.

Brazil doubles dengue test order

In January, Brazil's health ministry announced the details of a plan to launch dengue vaccination through its public health system, the first country in the world to do so. The country is using the Qdenga vaccine, which is made by Takeda. The campaign will target 3.2 million people with two doses of the vaccine.

In related news, the Fiocruz Institute today announced that it has doubled the production of dengue tests, based on a request from Brazil's health ministry. Along with 300,000 tests slated for delivery throughout the year, Fiocruz will deliver another 300,000 in the first few months of 2024.

The tests can confirm all four dengue serotypes, as well as chikungunya and Zika viruses.

Hots spots in Mexico, some Caribbean islands

Other hot spots in the region include Mexico, where cases are running 368% higher than the same period last year. Most of the country's cases are in three states: Quintana Roo, Tabasco, and Guerrero, all in the south.

In the Caribbean subregion, cases are up 741% from a year ago, mainly in non Latin areas.

Alongside Brazil, other Southern Cone countries reporting dengue surges include Paraguay, especially in Central, Asunción, and Itapúa departments in the south.

In its latest alert, PAHO urged countries to intensify efforts to control Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, boost surveillance, and ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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