By Jen O´Riordan, Viva Editorial Intern
The US Embassy in Honduras has issued a warning to residents and visitors to and from the country about dengue fever. Last month, Honduras declared the recent surge in cases of dengue a national emergency. It is believed that the disease has killed 21 Hondurans already this year. Another five fatalities are currently being investigated in order to ascertain if dengue fever was the cause of death.
The disease takes on two forms; classic and hemorrhagic. Symptoms include fever, headache (particularly strong behind the eyes), bone joint and muscle pain, bleeding through the nose and gums, and in many cases an increased susceptibility to bruising and a rash.
The disease cannot be transferred from one person to another but is contracted by a bite from an infected mosquito. Unfortunately there is no vaccine or cure for the disease yet. Last week, the total cases of classic dengue in Honduras since the start of the year stood at 17,620, with another 594 cases of the hemorrhagic type also diagnosed. The government reported that 85 percent of the hemorrhagic dengue cases occurred in the capital of Tegucigalpa.
However, cases this year have also been reported throughout Central and South America in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Peru, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
The fever usually lasts up to a week, and in a very small percentage of cases patients develop dengue shock syndrome (DSS), which can lead to death.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dengue infections are a worldwide occurrence and are commonly reported from most tropical countries in the South Pacific, Asia, the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa.
The Honduran government has launched fumigation efforts and a public education program in order to try and bring the recent outbreak under control.