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Rio de Janeiro Battles Dengue Outbreak Amid Carnival Celebrations

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Zara Nwosu
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Rio de Janeiro Battles Dengue Outbreak Amid Carnival Celebrations

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The Dengue Emergency

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Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil's most vibrant cities, notably known for its iconic carnival celebrations, has declared a public health emergency due to a rising outbreak of dengue fever. The municipality has already registered over 10,000 dengue cases since the start of 2024, almost half of the total cases in 2023. This alarming situation led to the opening of ten care centers, an emergency operations center, and the allocation of hospital beds specifically for dengue patients.

Nationwide Concern

The outbreak in Rio is part of a larger national crisis, with Brazil declaring public health emergencies in at least four states due to the explosion of dengue cases. The number of probable cases of dengue fever in Brazil has quadrupled to 262,247 in the first four weeks of 2024, leading to 29 reported deaths. States like Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo are among the most affected.

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Response and Interventions

In response to the crisis, the Brazilian air force has set up a 60-bed field hospital in the Federal District to treat patients. The city of Rio has seen a record number of hospitalizations, with 362 people admitted in one day in January. Health authorities have also launched a free vaccination campaign targeting 3.2 million people, with priority given to children aged 10 to 14. In an innovative approach, Brazil is also using Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to combat dengue fever.

Climate Change and Dengue

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Dengue is more common in tropical climates and can be fatal in severe cases. The increase in temperature and large amount of rain, both associated with climate change, are factors contributing to the outbreak. The Rio Mayor has urged residents to eliminate sources of still water, which serve as mosquito breeding grounds, to help curb the spread of the disease.

Vaccination Efforts

Brazil approved a vaccine against dengue in March 2023 and became the first country to offer a dengue vaccine through the public health system. In the wake of the current epidemic, the Federal Health Minister has launched an Emergency Operations Center to control the dengue epidemic and is distributing a Japanese-developed dengue vaccine to municipalities. Over 3 million people are due to receive a jab in 2024.

Unhindered Celebrations

Despite the rising threat of dengue, Rio de Janeiro's Carnival celebrations are expected to proceed as planned. The city has assured residents and visitors that they are taking all necessary precautions to stem the spread of dengue. However, participants are advised to take personal precautions, stay hydrated, and seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms of dengue fever.

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