Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Dengue prevention efforts stifled by coronavirus pandemic

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 9:43 AM
A Mumbai Municipal Corp. worker fumigates a street in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, June 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — To slow the spread of the coronavirus, governments issued lockdowns to keep people at home.

They curtailed activities that affected services like trash collection.

They tried to shield hospitals from a surge of patients.

But the cascading effects of these restrictions also are hampering efforts to cope with seasonal outbreaks of dengue, an incurable, mosquito-borne disease that is also known as “breakbone fever” for its severely painful symptoms.

Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Indonesia have dealt with concurrent outbreaks of dengue and coronavirus this year.

In Brazil, where there are over 1.6 million COVID-19 infections, at least 1.1 million cases of dengue have been reported, with nearly 400 deaths, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

Dengue cases are likely to rise soon with the start of seasonal rains in Latin American countries like Cuba, Chile and Costa Rica, as well as the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan.

Dengue typically isn’t fatal, but severe cases may require hospitalisation. Prevention efforts targeted at destroying mosquito-breeding sites, like removing trash or old tires and other objects containing standing water, are still the best ways to curb the spread of the disease.

But coronavirus-era lockdowns and other restrictions have meant that these efforts have been reduced or stopped altogether in many countries.

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