Peru Health Ministry warns of possible dengue fever in Lima, insists on prevention

A fast-growing outbreak of dengue fever in Peru’s northern Amazon region and neighboring Bolivia — aggravated by the torrid summer heat, rain, and accompanied by the reappearance of the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever — could potentially spread to Peru’s capital, Lima, if preventive measures aren’t taken seriously, reported Peru’s Health Ministry, or Minsa.

Though dengue fever cases endemic to Lima have never been reported, preoccupied Minsa authorities launched a nationwide prevention and information campaign last week to raise awareness of how to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits dengue, reported official state news agency Andina.

Ministry officials explained how to clean and protect standing water stores – such as pails, wells, or jerry cans – where the mosquito larvae mature, and handed out posters, t-shirts and informative leaflets.

“The mosquito reproduces in containers where water is stored, and these are generally keep inside the home” said Minsa spokesperson, Yeni Herrera. “It’s the families’ responsibility to clean and put a lid on these objects to prevent dengue from affecting their children and the general population.”

Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that causes a severe flu-like illness, and sometimes a potentially lethal complication called dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Symptoms of dengue range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. Dengue hemorrhagic fever, however, is a potentially lethal complication including symptoms such as fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding.

As there are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue, the only way to prevent transmission is to combat the disease-carrying mosquitoes.

In neighboring Bolivia, more than 33,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported to health authorities since January, and at least 19 people have died from hemorrhagic dengue. Chile, Peru and Argentina have all reported dengue fever cases that originated in Bolivia.

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