Brazilian authorities for the first time are admitting that the dengue epidemic in Brazil is having a serious impact on the tourist industry, particularly in Rio do Janeiro where bookings have been plummeting.
Tourism Minister Martha Suplicy said that the proliferation of dengue cases, and deaths, "inhibited" European tourists and to a lesser extent Argentines.
"We still don't have the numbers but as soon as the epidemic began we felt the impact particularly from Spain, Portugal and Italy. In Argentina also, but to a lesser extent", said Suplicy adding that the problem is "really serious; we can't block the sun with a colander".
Brazil's Association of Hotels confirmed that bookings in Rio for the coming long weekend (includes Monday April 21) stand at 45% of available rooms, which means a retraction of 20%.
The latest report from the Health authorities of Rio de Janeiro, the city which has most suffered the dengue disease with 46 deaths, in the last week has seen the number of cases grow by 1.929 to a total of 75.463.
Although the epidemic is most severe in the city, deaths have also been reported in the rest of the state, adding up to 79 deaths up from 67 only a week ago.
Another 80 deaths are undergoing forensic lab tests to determine whether it was dengue.
These numbers, which cover the three and a half months of 2008, indicate the city is rapidly heading to break the 2002 dengue epidemic record, with 91 deaths and 288.245 cases.
The transmission of dengue and its more deadly version, hemorrhagic dengue, is done by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which proliferates in stagnant waters and tropical weather. A female mosquito lives 45 days and it's enough to have bitten an infected person for it to become a lethal insect.
Symptoms begin to develop in the following four to fifteen days.