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Peru Trains Soldiers to Fight Against Mosquito-Borne Dengue Epidemic

Local academic says the country ‘lost control’ of the disease, days after the Peruvian health minister resigned over her handling of the crisis

Peru has entered a new health crisis, before it could recuperate after suffering the world’s highest reported Covid-19 death rate. The South American country declared an emergency after recording a 72-percent increase of dengue-fever cases.

“We have lost control” of the dengue epidemic, Valerie Paz-Soldan of the Cayetano Heredia University in Lima, an expert of vector-borne diseases, told AFP. Officials fear the numbers may be even higher than reported, since many patients never reach a doctor or a clinic.

Dengue is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes. It has symptoms ranging from fever, headache and joint pain, to more serious bleeding, organ failure and death. There is currently no cure for the virus.

Peruvian officials announced that soldiers were being trained to take part in the “mass fumigation” brigades against mosquitoes. Other countries in Latin America were affected by the dengue outbreak, with over 100 countries suffering from an endemic level outbreak. 

In the Latin America region, Peru has had the second highest mortality so far this year after Brazil, with a toll of 248 deaths and more than 146,000 infections. The Peruvian health minister resigned on Thursday, over her handling of the crisis.

The World Health Organization declared dengue and other similar mosquito-borne diseases, such as chikungunya, are spreading far faster and further amid climate change. Northern Peru was hit by a cyclone in March, which flooded areas and left an abundance of standing water for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

In addition, many clinics were damaged by the cyclone that also paralyzed an already struggling economy. “We have an immense human resource gap, our first level of care has collapsed and we lack supplies, medicines,” Luis Alfredo Espinoza Venegas, coordinator of dengue surveillance at a local hospital, told AFP.

Source : i24News