The government of Guatemala has declared a state of health emergency. This will initially apply for three months, as announced by Health Minister Francisco Coma.
More than 12,000 dengue virus infections
In Guatemala, Central America, authorities have recorded more than 12,200 dengue virus infections since the start of the year, about twice as many as the same period last year. Thus, 22 people have died from the disease in recent months.
Authorities are taking action
According to the emergency declaration, surveillance, treatment and prevention measures will be strengthened. This includes, for example, increased fumigation to control mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can transmit the dengue virus to humans.
Civil protection authorities also warned that there would be more stagnant water with the start of the rainy season. This is what mosquitoes need to reproduce. In 2019, Guatemala recorded the largest dengue epidemic in its history, with more than 50,000 cases.
More cases of dengue worldwide
In fact, the dengue virus is so far mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions. But the disease is now spreading around the world. Dengue is the fastest-spreading tropical disease in the world and poses a “pandemic risk,” according to the World Health Organization. Half of the world’s population is exposed to the virus. Between 100 and 400 million people are infected each year in at least 129 countries, according to WHO estimates.
Dengue fever, transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes, is mainly present in urban areas of tropical and subtropical regions.
Since 2000, the annual number of global cases has increased eightfold, reaching around 4.2 million last year.
“Half of the world’s population is now at risk of contracting dengue fever,” said Raman Velayudhan, head of the WHO’s neglected tropical diseases department.