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Dengue fever sweeps through Latin America and the Caribbean amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Dengue, a viral infection spread by mosquitoes, has swept through Latin America and the Caribbean in recent weeks.

As this medical crisis unfolds, these regions are struggling to deal with sufferers of dengue and a nation still ill, scared and traumatised from the new coronavirus.

The mosquito-borne illness has become one of the most common for reasons for hospitalisation. Many sufferers, however, are avoiding hospitals because of coronavirus fears.

Over three million cases - a six-fold increase compared to the previous year - has been reported in Latin America last year and the upward trend is rising.

Cases have been documented in countries such as Paraguay, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia.

One Colombian city has seen a 500 per cent increase in cases in a month.

Image credit: CDC website

While most people recover from dengue fever after 2-7 days of falling ill to the disease, we must take into account that countries across Latin America and the Caribbean are still highly vulnerable because of the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Where dengue sufferers are dealing with persistent symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, and depression, it not only affects their ability to work and survive in a COVID-19 pandemic, but it targets these individuals as even higher-risk to catching coronavirus.

The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) expects 2020 to mark exceptionally high rates of dengue. This is the result not only because of the current COVID-19 pandemic but also because four strains of dengue are in circulation and people may catch it more than once, with second cases more likely to be severe.

Cases of the disease are expected to decline in the second half of the year, according to PAHO.

With global attention still placed on COVID-19, it is easy for the world to neglect very real problems that exist beside the pandemic, such as a dengue outbreak that is killing hundreds of people and contributing to the fears and worries of people already in a stressful and vulnerable position.

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