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Dengue Epidemic Spreading In Central America, PAHO Reports

“A dengue epidemic is raging in Central America, from Honduras to Costa Rica,” The Guardian reports. According to the newspaper, “[t]he virus has already claimed 60 lives, with a total of 120,000 cases,” and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) “fears the figures may ‘explode,’ with this year looking ‘unusually bad.’” The Guardian writes that “[s]everal factors are likely to exacerbate the situation,” including heavy rain and heat during the rainy season, which “is set to continue until November.” The newspaper continues, “With the rising number of new cases, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica announced a health emergency in July and launched campaigns to prevent the disease from spreading.”

“The poor suburbs of Central American capitals are the main targets for campaigns to raise public awareness,” as “[p]oor housing, the lack of a mains water supply and the accumulation of household waste make such neighborhoods an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes,” The Guardian writes. “Latin America is particularly exposed to dengue epidemics, which recur on a three- to five-year cycle,” the newspaper notes. Philippe Brémond, an epidemiologist at France’s Institute of Research for Development (IRD), “expects the epidemics to continue in Latin America until ‘herd immunity’ is achieved there, with a sufficient number of people immunized to stamp out the virus,” a process that “may be speeded up by a vaccine currently being developed by France’s Sanofi Pasteur,” according to The Guardian (Badia, 8/27).