Mosquitoes can carry a number of deadly diseases.
Dengue fever is a tropical disease that’s killing people in Peru.
The illness rarely impacts people in the US.
There’s speculation that El Niño might be making the outbreak worse.
(NewsReady.com) – Mosquitoes are incredibly annoying insects, especially in tropical and subtropical climates. During the hot summer months, the bugs flourish and attack unsuspecting humans.
While it’s annoying to constantly get bitten by the flying insects, it can also be very dangerous. Mosquitoes carry various diseases, including malaria, zika, West Nile Virus, and dengue. The latter is currently devastating Peru.
Peru is currently under a health emergency in 18 of its 24 regions after the largest outbreak of dengue in the country’s history. Officials have recorded more than 140,000 cases of the disease, and at least 200 people have died from the illness so far. Peruvian President Dina Boluarte has said the state of emergency will extend for two months as the country deals with its rainy season.
Most of the cases have occurred in the northern region of the country. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, some exceeding capacity. According to the CDC, the virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. About a quarter of the people who contract the virus get sick. Symptoms of the disease include fever, eye pain, rash, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, and headache.
Lilian Pizarro told The Guardian that her 7-year-old, Camila, came down with a fever and abdominal pain. By the third day, she wasn’t keeping food down. The mother brought her child to an emergency tent hospital, where she was treated and is now recovering from the illness. Patients are being cared for in the facilities while they lie under mosquito netting.
Is El Niño Making It Worse?
There’s no definitive evidence that the dengue outbreak is being made worse by El Niño, but the weather phenomenon does bring warmer weather and more rain. Mosquitoes love wet weather because it allows them to breed in standing water. Pools, ponds, ditches, and puddles all become the ideal place for the bugs to lay their eggs.
The last time there was a significant dengue outbreak was in 2017. That was also an El Niño year.
Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said the wet weather that comes with El Niño can certainly make the problem worse. “More mosquitoes, more bites,” he said.
Though the disease is relatively uncommon in the US, there have been at least a couple of reported cases in Florida this year. People can protect themselves by wearing bug spray outside and getting rid of standing water around their yards.
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