Dengue fever spreads across Latin America

An outbreak of dengue fever that has spread across most of Latin America has lead to over 46,000 cases of the mosquito-borne viral disease since the beginning of the year and the deaths of 31 people.

There were 1.8 million cases of dengue in 2010, which killed 1,187 people. Venezuela reported 125,000 cases in 2010, nearly double the previous year, the Pan American Health Organization reports.

“An outbreak of dengue fever across much of Latin American has killed 31 people since the start of the year and is showing no sign of relenting,” Agence  France-Presse/News 24 reports. “Nearly 46,600 confirmed or suspected cases have been detected in the region, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.”

Efforts are underway to control the dengue spread as countries like Paraguay, Peru and Cuba have started fumigation programs to reduce the number of Aedes mosquitoes that can transmit the disease. Dengue may more frequently affect the poor since they have no running water and rely on water containers. The Aedes mosquito then lays larvae in this stagnant water.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue often occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world and symptoms tend to appear three to 14 days after an infective bite. Symptoms include mild to incapacitating high fever, pain behind the eyes, rash and severe headache. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a potentially lethal complication that affects mostly children.