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Honduras faces deadly dengue fever epidemic

By John Sevigny     Aug 27, 2013 in World
Tegucigalpa - In the wake of 12,000 reported cases of mosquito-borne dengue fever and at least 19 deaths from the disease, Honduran officials have declared a state of emergency as the rainy season looms in that Central American country.
Dengue is only transmitted between people by mosquitoes and is seldom deadly. The most dangerous form of the disease, called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause internal bleeding and death, particularly in children and the elderly.
Christie Mount, a researcher at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, said in a report published by CNN that because the aegis aegypti mosquito breeds in standing water, the coming rainy season could increase the mosquito population along with the spread of the disease.
Honduras' current struggles with violence, as well as other social factors including lack of education about the disease, mean the country will need international assistance to minimize the number of dengue infections and deaths, according to Mount.
"As the country continues to struggle following recent political instability and continued gang violence, the Honduran government currently does not have the capacity to combat the disease without international aid," Mount wrote. "At this time, it is crucial that the international community not only assist the Honduran government with treating dengue fever, but also with implementing measures that could halt the rapid transmission of this deadly epidemic that could potentially claim many more lives by the end of the year."
Symptoms of dengue include high fever, intense headaches and muscle and joint pain. There is no vaccine for dengue but early detection can lead to treatments to help keep it from developing into the more deadly form of the fever, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Honduran infectious disease specialist Tito Alvarado told the newspaper La Prensa that the country's hospitals lack basic infrastructure to treat dengue-infected patients.
"I haven't visited the hospitals but I have heard that many patients are coming and that the operational capacity of the hospitals is not optimal," Alvarado said. "We need special dengue wards, and medical and nursing personnel."
According to the CDC more than 100 million people are infected with dengue fever every year. Health officials say the best way to stop the spread of dengue is to teach people to protect themselves from mosquitoes using repellents, nets to cover their beds, and other measures.
More about Dengue, Dengue fever, Honduras, Central america, Epidemic
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