According to the Secretary of Health of Medellín, dengue fever cases in the city are more than five times higher compared to 2015. At least 4,690 cases of dengue fever have been identified in Colombia’s second largest city and capital of Antioquía Department, compared to only 862 during the same period in 2015.
During the most recent week, disease activity has increased in Buenos Aires, Manrique, Norte del Doce de Octubre, San Javier el Sur de Roble, and Villa Hermosa communes. According to health officials, Santa Elena and Palmitas remain vector-free. Authorities have also reported 120 cases of chikungunya and 40 Zika virus cases in Medellín during 2016.
Health authorities attribute the surge in cases to the El Niño effect which has brought increase in temperatures and rainfall throughout the region. Although officials are planning fumigation campaigns and actively monitoring for cases, the public is encouraged to destroy all possible mosquito breeding grounds. In addition, individuals are advised to remain vigilant for possible dengue fever symptoms, especially pain behind the eyes.
As of April 30, Colombian authorities have reported 48,424 cases of dengue fever nationwide, compared to 35,796 cases during the same period in 2015. Valle del Cauca has reported the most cases (13,772), followed by Antioquía (7,826), and Santander (3,692) departments. Dengue fever in Colombia traditionally peaks during the first half of the year and cases are expected to remain high in coming weeks.
Neighboring countries Venezuela and Brazil, have also reported an increase in mosquito-borne diseases in 2016 compared to 2015.
By Gabby Molinolo– Originally from Argentina, Gabriela moved to the US in 2002. She obtained a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Public Health with a focus in epidemiology. Currently, Gabby works for a risk management firm managing a team of health intelligence analysts.