The government is set to declare a health emergency in northern Peru, following reports of more than 80 new cases of dengue fever in the wake of heavy rains and flooding in Tumbes, Piura and Lambayeque. On the south coast in Ica, 28 cases have been reported.
“The idea of declaring an emergency is not to frighten people,” said Health minister Patricia Salas. “It is a mechanism that gives regions access to resources so that they can hire fumigators, acquire medicines or adjust infrastructure, as in the Las Mercedes Hospital.”
Heavy rains on the north coast and flash floods in Ica have left puddles of stagnant water along streets and housing areas, creating a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The risk also includes the chikungunya and zika viruses, and is higher in the rural areas on the north coast where, for lack of running water, people store water in open buckets and drums.
The dengue virus is transmitted by the small Aedes aegypti mosquito, which lays its eggs in pools of still water, usually in dark or shady areas close to households.
The Health Ministry has ordered fumigation of homes and public buildings, while local health authorities are carrying out a door-to-door visits to provide information and distribute literature on the virus.