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Government admits Brazil faces dengue epidemics

Health Minister Arthur Chioro confirmed Monday (May 4) that Brazil faces a dengue epidemic.

“A total 745,957 cases had been reported by 18 April. We know that this number is going up,” the minister said following an event in São Paulo.

But according to him, “the epidemic is concentrated in nine states, with more than 300 cases in every 100,000 people.”

Chioro pointed out that the number of cases increased 234.5% virtually all over the country compared to 2014, chiefly because 2014 was an “exceptionally good” year concerning the dengue fever. “[In 2014] the number of cases, severity levels, and number of deaths were lower. Somehow, in some areas, this led to a relaxing of the vigilance and efforts,” he said. He noted, however, that in the same period in 2013 – from January to April – 1.4 million cases were reported, but the 2015 number “was still 48% down [compared to 2013].”

The minister explained that the number of cases tend to decrease as the winter comes. “In some states, this is already happening. Temperatures are beginning to fall and the control measures are working,” he pointed out.

Among the factors underlying the epidemic situation this year, Chioro said climatic events have led the disease to break out earlier on and cited the water crisis, which led to more widespread water storage efforts without the appropriate precautions.

The minister has asked the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) to prioritize research into a dengue vaccine. “It would be a breakthrough for Brazil and the world if we could create a vaccine that is both safe and effective.” He mentioned partnerships of the Ministry of Health with such renowned biologics research centers as the Butantan Institute and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation 

Translated by Mayra Borges

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