A huge virus outbreak in South America has seen more than 100,000 people infected and at least 200 die, reports The Daily Express US.
Climate change has been blamed for the crisis as dengue fever takes hold in Peru, with experts linking it to a rise in rainfall and warmer temperatures.
Dengue is a tropical disease spread by mosquitos that can provoke a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle, and joint pain, and sometimes death.
According to the country’s National Center for Epidemiology, Prevention and Control of Diseases, Peru has recorded more than 130,000 probable cases of dengue so far this year, with worst in its history. Some 200 people have died, with another 39 fatalities under investigation.
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Fears are high that the outbreak will spread to other countries in the tropics, where dengue and other insect-borne illnesses are most prevalent, as the climate becomes warmer and wetter weather. These conditions are ideal for mosquitos to thrive with the Peru outbreak triggered by record March rainfalls in the northern parts of the country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of reported cases increased roughly tenfold from about 500,000 in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2019. In March this year the WHO declared dengue a “major public health problem” for the Americas region.
Raman Velayudhan, who leads the WHO’s program on Neglected Tropical Diseases, said at an April news conference: “In terms of climate change, certainly increased precipitation, higher temperatures and higher humidity all favor the mosquito.”
Conditions have been made worse by the El Niño weather pattern, a cyclical warming of the world’s oceans and weather, which fuels tropical cyclones in the Pacific.
The past three years have been dominated by a cooler pattern, but it’s possible we could see a repeat of 2016’s strong El Niño that saw the world record its hottest year on record.
Michelle L’Heureux, a meteorologist with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has just confiormed the start of El Niño, admitted last week: “We’re in unprecedented territory.”
The Peruvian government has declared a two-month “state of emergency” in 18 of the country’s 24 regions. President Dina Boluarte hopes extreme measures, such as prohibiting residents from storing still water in open containers, will stop the spread.
Gutiérrez said the figure is the highest since 2017, when there were 68,290 cases and 89 deaths. Unviling the measurseesm Health Minister Rosa Gutiérrez said in a statement: “Dengue kills. Because of that, help me eliminate mosquito breeding sites.”