Argentina is experiencing the worst dengue outbreak in its history

The dengue epidemic is increasing, and there is all sorts of data to support it. From an empirical perspective, the public and private guards of the AMBA are overwhelmed with requests for the cold data from the latest available National Epidemiological Bulletin, which indicates that (so far in 2024) 102,898 cases have been recorded in 19 provinces. Compared to the same period in 2023, cases increased elevenfold. And in the “2023/2024 season” 79 deaths from dengue fever were registered. Climatic factors also lead to the hypothesis that all of these numbers will continue to worsen in the coming weeks.

“In Argentina, the current situation has already far exceeded the records of the 2015/16 and 2022/23 epidemics. And it is a real public health problem for the entire Latin American region,” biologist Marina Leporace told Perfil. of the Science and Technology team of the Barceló Foundation and researcher working on mosquitoes and disease vectors. And he recalled that “the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) actually issued an epidemiological alert in mid-February due to the increase in dengue cases.” In this alert, the PAHO reiterated the call to increase measures to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito Main transmission vector, to intensify.

What are the causes of this situation?

Partly the climatic situation with abundant rain and high average temperatures, two factors that favor the reproduction in large numbers of the insect responsible for spreading the virus by biting people in search of food.

This year’s meteorological trends “made it easier for the epidemic to advance chronologically.” “Historically, we saw the peak of infections in mid-March or April. This year the cycles were several weeks earlier. This shift gives us uncertainty and leads us to suspect that cases will continue to rise for several weeks.”

Not only do abundant rains provide more shelter for females to lay their eggs, but high average temperatures also allow them to complete the maturation cycle, giving new litters of mosquitoes the opportunity to fly, bite and spread each of the four viral serotypes, who contract dengue fever.

On the other hand, Leporace warns that in recent years these mosquitoes have become accustomed to withstanding lower temperatures. “There are scientific publications reporting that mosquitoes have been found “alive” in latitudes as far south as the city of San Antonio Oeste, in the province of Río Negro.”

On the other hand, the researcher drew attention to an essential point for dengue prevention. “Although there is a lot of talk about removing dirt and the necessary cleaning of patios and gardens, what comes to mind is pots and containers where water collects. But we must not forget that Aedes larvae can also grow in houses. I found it in B. in the draining rack or in the place where the water falls out of the dispenser. In other words, all types of spaces where water accumulates need to be emptied and cleaned.

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They debate the vaccine

Another point being discussed this week (on which even the experts disagree) is the preventive vaccine, the use of which was approved a few months ago by Anmat in Argentina. According to some experts and infectious disease specialists, there is currently no point in using it on a mass scale. The central argument is that two doses three months apart are required for the body to build lasting immunity to the virus.

Such arguments are made by experts such as the infectologist of the Eduardo López Children’s Hospital and the CABA Minister of Health Fernán Quirós. According to this argument, those vaccinated would only have immunity in the middle of winter (when there are no more mosquitoes), Quirós told Perfil a few weeks ago.

However, other experts such as Roberto Debagg, President of the Latin American Society of Pediatric Infectology, recall that “a few days after the first dose, the body develops immunity. The second is necessary so that this immunity lasts at least five years. But with the first we would protect many people from complications.”

This debate also extends to other points, namely the question of whether it is necessary to include this vaccine in the national compulsory list. López reiterates that the problem still needs to be analyzed in detail since, for example, in the provinces of Patagonia there are practically no cases because there are no mosquitoes. So should these also be a general vaccine and used for everyone? It is worth noting that the National Commission on Immunization (CoNaIn), the technical body that assesses these issues, has not yet issued a decision on the issue. Dr. Mario Russo, the country’s health minister, said in a recent article in the newspaper La Nación: “In the coming months we will determine whether vaccination (against dengue fever) will be introduced next season.”

CABA enabled fever treatment units in 18 hospitals

Faced with major delays in the city’s wards, the GCBA Hospital Network set up 18 care centers for febrile patients. “It is important to make clear that we pay special attention to those who have febrile symptoms. We have set up independent circles in all hospitals, like with Covid. The Guards continue to regularly participate in other consultations,” explained the Minister of Health, Fernán Quirós.

The new centers are dedicated exclusively to treating patients with suspected and confirmed dengue fever.

The protocol states that the patient is registered, examined and undergoes laboratory tests to analyze platelet levels in order to diagnose the severity. And the person will be reassessed within 48 hours. The hospitals with these units are: Piñero, Durand, Rivadavia, Fernández, Pirovano, Enrique Tornú, Alvarez, Cecilia Grierson, Muñiz, Argerich, Zubizarreta, Santojanni, Ramos Mejía, Vélez Sarsfield, María Ferrer, Penna and the pediatric hospitals: Gutiérrez and Pedro of Elizalde.

With information from agencies

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