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dengue fever

Public Health Emergency Declared In Puerto Rico Over Dengue Fever Outbreak

Puerto Rico’s hot and humid climate makes dengue fever an ongoing risk for its citizens. This year, however, “cases have exceeded historical figures,” according to Puerto Rico Health Secretary Carlos Mellado. 

Mellado has officially called a public health emergency this week as a means of decreasing the current rise in dengue fever cases. The declaration will help guarantee Puerto Rico has access to the resources they need in order to combat the current outbreak. The declaration is currently set to last for 90 days, and will be renewed if necessary. 

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Besides just Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, and other Latin American countries have also declared a state of emergency over dengue fever. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Health stated that they first noticed an increase in dengue fever cases at the end of 2023, according to NBC News. By the third week of January, there had been 146 cases reported, and the rates kept increasing. 

As of March 10th, there have been about 550 dengue fever cases reported in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year. According to the Health Department, most of the cases are in the capital of San Juan. 

62% of patients have been hospitalized, according to reports, and only 29 cases have been considered severe so far. 

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Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease in which the most common symptom is fever, as well as serious headaches, nausea, vomiting, rash, and body pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also stated that most dengue fever patients recover in a week, but severe cases can be life-threatening and require hospitalization, as it can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and death. Individuals who have experienced dengue fever in the past are more likely to develop severe symptoms. 

The CDC, the Puerto Rico Health Department, and other local agencies are working together to implement a dengue fever prevention and control plan. The plan involves eliminating and cleaning up areas of stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. 

The plan also involved urging the public to use mosquito repellents and wire mesh panels to keep mosquitos out of their home. 

In a statement Monday, Mellado said “that all parts of Puerto Rican society must join forces to prevent contagion and the spread of this virus.”