The number of dengue fever cases in Brazil has nearly five-fold since this time in February, according to newly released data from the Pan American Health Organization today.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

The UN agency put the dengue count in Brazil at more than 224,000 cases during the first nine weeks of 2015. This is a 162% increase compared to the same period in 2014.

As reported on this news site on Feb. 21, Brazil saw some 46,000 cases to date.

In addition, one month ago there were eight dengue related fatalities in the Western Hemisphere, while today’s data show the total deaths up to 65, with Brazil accounting for eight out of 10 (52).

A drought reported earlier in the year and the subsequent heavy rains of the past month or so has been the impetus of the current dengue surge in the South American country.

The drought also prompted rainwater storage earlier, and as Health Minister Arthur Chioro said in February, “It’s unquestionable that the drought-created water shortage increases the risk of the Aedes aegypti mosquito proliferating to the extent that people store water without protecting it”.

In 2014, Brazil reported nearly 600,000 dengue fever cases, including more than 400 deaths, while in 2013, Brazil topped 1.4 million dengue cases and nearly 600 deaths.

Overall in the Americas in 2015, about 300,000 suspected and confirmed dengue cases have been reported, including 25 in the US (all imported).