Nicaragua on alert for dengue fever

The Sandinista government today declared an epidemiologic alert for dengue, swine flu and leptospirosis following a reported spike in the three rainy season illnesses, including two dengue-related deaths in Chinandega.

Without citing any statistics about how many people have become ill with the three diseases, first lady Rosario Murillo announced the health alert on Tuesday afternoon during her daily address to her family media outlets. She said the government is activating all its various neighborhood political and health councils to monitor the problem and respond to the situation under the concept of her “Live Pretty, Live Clean, Live Good, Live Well” campaign.

“We will continue working with the anti-epidemic brigades, with the Committees of the Family. We will be in the barrios, in the neighborhoods, the municipalities, the departments working to destroy mosquito nesting grounds. We are going to increase the anti-epidemic brigades of health workers and we are going to develop more training workshops for health workers,” Murillo said. “We are ready and we are informed.”

Most of the known cases of dengue are in the departments of Chinandega, León, Managua, Masaya and Chontales, according to Murillo. Though the first lady did not cite any numbers, she said the health epidemic is worsening.

“We have more cases than last year,” she said.

El Nuevo Diario reports 107 confirmed cases of dengue in León’s public hospital, with hundreds more suspected cases. The newspaper also reports two dengue-related deaths in the past week in the northwestern municipality of Villa Nueva, Chinandega.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. Symptoms appear 3-14 days after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a febrile illness with symptoms that range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration and the use of aspirin and Ibuprofen is not recommended.

Hemorrhagic dengue can be fatal.

Leptospirosis, meanwhile, is an infection that is usually contracted from infected rodents through skin abrasions and the mucosa of the nose, mouth and eyes. Exposure through water contaminated by urine from infected animals is the most common route of infection, according to the World Health Organization. Leptospirosis outbreaks usually occur in flooded areas.

Murillo did not offer any specific information about how many Nicaraguans have contracted leptospirosis or swine flu this rainy season, but she confirmed that there are cases of both.