It is estimated that 40% of the world's population, some 3,000 million people, live in dengue risk areas. And of the 400 million people who are infected a year, a large part comes from countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, where this virus is endemic.
However, in the opinion of several experts, the fact that in Puerto Rico there have been virtually no cases reported in the last two years could have caused many to have forgotten what measures they should take to prevent transmission.
“The issue is that we have not had an outbreak for several years and people forget it. Santo Domingo is full of cases and at some point that will explode here, ”said pediatrician Gerardo Tosca.RELATED
Dengue is a disease transmitted mainly by the bite of an infected mosquito, usually the females of Aedes aegypti. There are four serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4), but none repeats more than once.
Tosca warned that given the possibility of an outbreak or epidemic due to the number of cases and deaths that have been reported in nearby countries, it is imminent for communities to take actions to prevent sources of transmission, preventing the accumulation of water in containers. In addition, he stressed that the population should know the symptoms of the virus to know when to seek medical assistance. Symptoms include high fever, rash, body aches and pains, nausea and vomiting.
“Patients have to be re-educated on how to prevent dengue. At some point, cases will come, ”said the doctor.
According to Dr. Luis Bonilla Soto, director of the Department of Environmental Health of the School of Public Health of the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico, although most of the population knows the risks of this virus, they are not put into practice some of the main protection measures against the virus. Gums, vases, plants, buckets and septic tanks are some places where the female Aedes aegypti lay their eggs to start a cycle of seven to ten days to become an adult mosquito capable of transmitting the virus to others through its bite.
"This (Aedes aegypti) is a very domestic mosquito that lives around homes, where there is accumulated water, even in small bottle caps," said Bonilla Soto.
He added that, as a tropical country, in Puerto Rico there are many episodes of rain capable of causing water accumulation and the possibility of mosquito breeding sites.
“The first line of defense between the mosquito and a possible epidemic is the people, the communities. If they ignore (prevention measures), there will be an epidemic, ”he concluded.
Dr. Carmen Deseda, a state epidemiologist, confirmed this week seven cases of dengue in people who recently traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico and were infected there. In both countries there are dengue outbreaks. The peak dengue season in Puerto Rico runs between the months of August and October.