Brazil’s Health Alert to Tourists: Public Calamity in Rio Due to Dengue

The Rio de Janeiro Physicians’ Syndicate issued an international alert on what the organization considers a situation of "public calamity" presented by dengue fever in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro.

According to the president of the syndicate, Jorge Darze, the purpose is to make the international community aware of the risk of tourists’ catching the disease during Carnaval in Brazil.

Data from the Municipal Department of Health show that 432 cases have been reported this year, as against 58 in January, 2005.

Darze observed that the situation is even more complicated for tourists who come from countries with cold climates.

"Since dengue is a typically tropical disease, it is rare for tourists from cold climates to have already contracted this disease and developed some antibodies," he said.

"The danger is even greater, since most of them also lack information on the symptoms."

The physician emphasized the fact of dengue’s "being a deceptive disease," since, after the worst symptoms, such as fever and body pain, abate, the victim can go on to develop hemorrhagic dengue.

"If many people in Brazil are unaware of this, and even physicians release patients after an apparent improvement, what will happen to foreigners. They end up being even more vulnerable," he warned.

Another problem indicated by Darze is the lack of medical posts and the "cannibalization" of the city’s public hospitals in the area of dengue treatment, a situation aggravated by the influx of a large number of tourists during Carnaval.

In his view, private medical facilities are also not prepared to deal with these cases. "During the 2002 epidemic, 60 deaths were registered in the municipality of Rio, most of them in the private health network. Many private physicians have no experience in the treatment of epidemic diseases," he said.

Agência Brasil

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