Dengue fever cases double in Peru

Public health authorities in the Cajamarca region of northern Peru are reporting double the number of dengue fever cases confirmed this year in comparison to the same period in 2011.

A total of nearly 1,200 cases of dengue have been confirmed since the beginning of 2012. Last year at this time, there were approximately 600 reported cases. So far, there have been two fatalities from the illness, a 26-year-old woman and a six-year-old child, according to

Alberto Sanchez, a doctor in a Jaen province hospital, said that the dengue virus in the region belongs to the more aggressive American/Asian genotype. Sanchez said that the disease has intensified since February.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness caused by any one of four related dengue strains. It is often called break-bone fever because it can cause severe joint and muscle pain. Symptoms of dengue fever also include severe headaches, nausea and vomiting. Hemorrhagic dengue fever is rare, but can be fatal.

There is no known vaccine for the disease, which, according to the World Health Organization, infects approximately 100 million people each year.

Dengue is not contagious from person to person and can only be transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Efforts to stop dengue fever often center on controlling the mosquito population in a given area.