Rio declares dengue epidemic

Rio de Janeiro recently declared that it is facing an epidemic of dengue fever after diagnosing more than 50,000 cases of the mosquito-borne illness this year.

In the last week, public health authorities confirmed more than 500 cases of dengue in the city and reported that the number of cases has surpassed 300 per 100,000 residents every month, according to AFP.

"We have a plan focused on the epidemic and we continue to be in a state of alert," Hans Dohmann, the city's health secretary, said, AFP reports.

The state of Rio de Janeiro has reported 64,423 cases of the illness since the year began. There have been 13 deaths in region due to the illness, 12 of which occurred in the city itself.

Last year, authorities reported 168,242 cases of dengue in Rio de Janeiro and 140 deaths.

Dengue fever is caused by one of four strains of the dengue virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms of dengue fever resemble the flu, and include high fever, severe headaches, skin rash and joint pain. A hemorrhagic form of the illness is more severe, but occurs less frequently.

The World Health Organization estimates 50 to 100 million people contract dengue infections every year.