In Brazil, the number of cases of dengue officially registered in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro has risen 1,000% in the first two months of 2011, compared to the same period last year – 5,663 cases in 2011 and 539 in 2010.
The announcement of the latest dengue numbers was made by the Secretariat of Health and Civil Defense of the state of Rio de Janeiro during a ceremony in the hillside slum area known as Complexo do Alemão, which was recently occupied by a UPP – police pacification unit – after drug lords were driven out.
The objective of bringing in health and civil defense officials was to make the local inhabitants aware of the problem, especially youths, who did not have access to information about the disease in the past.
“The key to a successful campaign against dengue is getting young people involved. Once they understand the gravity of the situation, they will take the information home and adults will join the effort to control dengue,” explains Daniel Barcellos, a captain in the Fire Department.
Health authorities are very concerned about the appearance of the dengue type 1, which has been absent from Brazil for over 20 years and as a result levels of immunity to it are extremely low.
“People born after 1988 are susceptible to dengue type 1 and this year we expect to have high levels of contagion,” declared Mário Sergio Ribeiro, a Health Secretariat official.
“We could have our public health system severely strained if we get an outbreak. We will also have to train personnel to diagnose and treat dengue type 1,” said Mário Sergio.
“We expect that dengue type 1 will be less severe than types 2 and 3, that have caused recent epidemics in Brazil. However, the big problem is the possibility of a mutation that creates a more aggressive type of dengue,” he concluded.