Dengue fever hits Latin America hard

Costa Rica’s health minister recently said that there have been more than 160,000 confirmed cases of dengue fever in Latin America so far this year.

The number of people infected in the region is certainly higher. In 2010, estimates of the number of people in Latin America infected by the mosquito-borne illness reached 1.5 million people. There have been more than 400 deaths from the illness reported this year, according to TheCostaRicaNews.com.

Outbreaks of the illness have been reported throughout Latin America. A dengue outbreak has caused 32 deaths and infected more than 20,000 people in Peru alone. The Peruvian government recently declared a state of emergency for two months in order to facilitate the fumigation of nearly 70,000 homes.

The dengue fever virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which lives in tropical and sub-tropical climates. More than a third of the world’s population is at risk for transmission. Symptoms of the disease usually resemble influenza with joint and bone pain. A rash may appear over most of the body after the fever starts, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In rare cases, the virus can cause highly fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever, a more severe form of the illness. It can be fatal if unrecognized and not properly treated in a timely manner.

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