After two years of decline, cases of dengue rose again throughout Brazil. According to the Ministry of Health, the number of infected rose 85.6%evaluating the months of January to the first week of April of this year with the same period of 2021.
“This rise may have been caused by underreporting from previous years, while we were experiencing the height of the Covid pandemic. But also because we are in a more humid and rainy summer, which facilitates the accumulation of water”, says Alberto Chebabo, an infectious disease specialist at Dasa and president of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI).
The mosquito-borne disease aedes aegypti it has a significant impact on the body and can be fatal. There were 79 deaths in the same period.
It is good to remember that we are still living with the coronavirus, now in the form of Omicron variant and its relatives, BA.1, BA.2 and XE. In this context, it is essential to know how to differentiate symptoms and how to prevent.
+ Read more: Covid-19 and dengue: what are the differences and similarities?
Dengue causes a sudden high fever, spots on the body after the fifth day and a general malaise. The person will hardly have symptoms in the respiratory tract, which, in turn, are the focus of Covid-19, such as coughing, sneezing, runny nose and difficulty breathing.
How to prevent dengue?
Stopping the disease does not depend on avoiding contact with people and there is still no very effective vaccine against it.
“It’s no use putting the patient in quarantine. If there is anyone confirmed, it is necessary to investigate mosquito larvae outbreaks at home and in the neighborhood”, recalls Rafael Jácomo, physician and technical director of Grupo Sabin.
Ideally, according to him, there should be a epidemiological surveillance, and local governments to act in areas with more cases. Without this effort, prevention measures are left in the hands of the population. See some tips:
- Do not allow water to accumulate in the yard, on plant dishes and in other containers.
- Cover the water tanks well
- Swimming pools must be sanitized regularly, and covered with canvas to maintain the chlorine treatment. The edges are an invitation to the larvae and they must always be clean.
- Prevent bites with repellents and insecticides
- Watch out for gutters and slabs that can serve as a water reservoir
- Take good care of the garbage. Do not leave waste in the open and report abandoned debris in neighborhoods
Climate change increases the mosquito’s area of activity
The mosquito adapts very well to high temperatures and heavy rains, a combination that has been occurring more and more with the global warming. Proof of this is that regions that were not the focus of the Aedes started having problems caused by it.
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“Areas that used to have a more temperate climate are becoming similar to the tropics. The southern region of Brazil, Argentina and American states such as Texas and Florida are registering cases of dengue and mosquito circulation, which did not occur frequently”, says Chebabo.
This fact is confirmed with numbers. THE highest incidence occurs in the Midwest (with 648 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants), but the south is secondwith 198.5 cases per 100 thousand inhabitants.
What are the symptoms of dengue and how does it evolve?
THE fever is the main symptom of dengue, but it is usually accompanied by headache behind the eyes, diarrhea, bleeding gums, and some skin lesions.
“There are reports of redness in the skin also in cases of Covid, but they are much rarer”, recalls Jácomo.
In public and private networks, blood tests can confirm dengue infection. With the diagnosis, some more tests are requested to know the general state of health of the individual.
“It is important to check if there are drop in the number of blood platelets. They are cells that act in the defense of our body and help healing. Even if there are small manifestations of bleeding, there is a risk of worsening, and the doctor usually asks for a blood count to check this condition”, says Jácomo.
How is the treatment done?
There is no specific drug against dengue. In general, the condition resolves itself and medication is used to relieve symptoms, always under medical supervision.
However, it is not advisable to wait for it to pass on its own. This because dengue can evolve into a serious case. “Many people have contact with infected people with almost no symptoms and do not take it seriously, but it is necessary to have the diagnosis of a health professional”, says the medical director of Grupo Sabin.
In addition, bleeding related to the disease can intensify if the person uses drugs with acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin, for example) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
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The worsening of dengue can also take time to be noticed. The tendency is for the person to get better within a week. More serious cases, however, have a turning point at the same time.
“There is a second phase in which the symptoms return, with fever and the presence of some signs of attention, such as abdominal pain, dizziness, fainting, with dehydration and bleeding”, explains Chebabo.
Is anyone who has had dengue immune?
Not. That’s because there four serotypes different from dengue. “A person is infected by one of them, he is protected for the rest of his life, but he can have the disease three more times. From the second onwards, there is usually a greater risk of progressing to a more serious condition”, explains Chebabo.
This more severe manifestation is known as hemorrhagic dengue.