The little wind these days in the metropolitan area stopped talking about mosquitoes, the lack of repellent and problems such as denguebeyond that, compared to last season, The increase in cases is exceeding 1,800%.
The figure can be calculated based on the last National Epidemiological Bulletinwhich reports, until Sunday, the accumulated dengue infections for almost five months, between August 31 (formal start of the virus season) and January fines.
Even though the 2023 epidemic outbreak was – in a bad sense – “memorable” towards the fall (it tripled the cases of 2020), for this time of year the diagnoses were only 1,443 and there were no deaths. Now, taking the same five months, They reach 27,430 cases and 20 deaths..
In relation to the same period a year ago, in the “Center” (Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, Santa Fe and Córdoba), the increase reached 126%. In the Northeast (Corrientes, Misiones, Chaco and Formosa), 9,300%.
Since 95% of infections are concentrated in the poorest provinces of Argentina, Clarion asked the Ministry of Health if they were moving in any promising directions regarding the inclusion of the new (and expensive) Qdenga vaccine in the official schedule. Also, as will be seen at the end of this note, we tried to find out why weeks ago buying a bottle of repellent became an uphill task.
These questions are important because, a couple of experts say, there would not be an “early” peak of infections, nor should one rely on the dengue cycle every three to five years.
Julián Antman, master and consultant in Epidemiology as well as former operational manager of Epidemiology of CABA, recalled that “until now there was no dengue all year round, but in the NEA, where the largest outbreak occurs, there were cases throughout 2023”.
And “although it is said that brothers come every few years, Argentina is a very large territory. An outbreak at one time and in one place does not mean that another one will arise in another part the following season.”
Furthermore, summarized María Soledad López, Conicet researcher at the Center for Climate Variability and Change Studies of the Faculty of Engineering and Water Sciences of the National University of the Litoral, “the climatic and meteorological conditions of Argentina are providing, today, the scenario so that the registered cases continue increasing”.
What the Ministry of Health says about the dengue vaccine
From the portfolio led by Mario Russo, concern and interest in include the dengue vaccine in the official calendar, at least in the most complicated areas. But, they warn, whenever it is recommended by the National Immunization Commission (CoNaIn), whose experts meet four times a year and issue recommendations to the Ministry of Health.
As these suggestions are not binding, the Ministry could take action on the matter whenever it sees fit. Clarion He consulted: Will they prioritize the recurring official allusion to “federal freedom” or will they give vaccines to the provinces with the poorest populations? In Health they emphasize working on these aspects with the jurisdictions.
The next CoNaIn meeting does not have a date. In the last one, it was recommended to “advance in the development of a matrix that contributes to the analysis for the implementation of a national vaccination strategy to departmental level in areas of high viral circulation.”
“This would include the vaccination in young adultssurveillance of vaccine safety, cost-effectiveness studies and development of an evaluation matrix,” they transmitted from the Ministry, citing the CoNaIn minutes.
Some provinces have already started vaccination with Qdenga doses (from the Takeda laboratory), but not with national contributions. An example is Missionsque the campaign recently started.
This does not happen in Formosa and Chaco, the two provinces with the worst figures. In the last one (adding a bean to the proposal of the national representative Sabrina Ajmechet), Chaco legislators presented a project a few days ago to include the dengue vaccine in the provincial calendar.
As can be seen, there may be political interest in immunization, but it is impressive that the scenario, in this sense, remains green.
Where dengue cases grow
Given that there are four serotypes of dengue (the vaccine has proven good effectiveness against three), the problem with reinfection is catching a different variant than the one you already had. The associated risk is suffering dengue hemorrhagic fevera very severe form of the infection.
In the Center region, at this time last year and since August 31, 638 cases have accumulated. This year there are 1,446, a 126% more. In Cuyo (Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis), a year ago only 12 cases were seen. Now, double.
Where infections decrease is in the Northwest. Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán went from 519 to 309. But be careful: the province with the most cases in 2023 was Salta and last November they started vaccinating.
The Northeast, as was said, is a mess. By the end of January, they had accumulated 271 cases in the season. Now there are 25,522.
The rest of the provinces appear in the Bulletin as the “South” region. A year ago they registered 3 cases. Now 128. The majority are in Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego, which warns about climate change and the mosquito’s adaptation to colder areas.
Based on historical records of dengue 1998-2020 that the scientist studies with his work team, López highlighted the negative effects of higher temperatures and increased rainfall in the Northeast and central-east. The current season, in fact, “is passing with above normal wet conditions“he emphasized.
The heat “favors the abundance of the vector and greater transmission of the virus, added to the fact that greater rainfall favors the formation of breeding sites and the survival of the adult mosquito.”
Why is there no mosquito repellent?
Clarion He warned about it at the beginning of January and the issue continues: there is a lack of repellent, especially in aerosol form.
From the company SC Johnsonmanufacturer of a couple of leading brands of mosquito repellent, claim to be producing “a batch of Off! Family and its ‘extra-duration’ version in a different container than the current one”, which “will represent 20% of the aerosols to be distributed on the market in the coming weeks, which will increase availability.”
As it was found out, it is a container without a lid that recovers a previous presentation of the brand. The company did not specify whether this need arose due to problems with imports or due to a cost issue.
According to supermarket sources, the shortage was due to the company trying to market its products at a price too high.
is SC Johnson They explain that there was a “significant increase in the presence of mosquitoes” and “an unprecedented increase in the demand for repellents”. They claim to be deepening the “plant capacity through three production shifts” as much as possible.
However, it must be remembered that the repellent is only a palliative tool against dengue: the key is the mess. Prevent water from collecting on surfaces that form “little puddles” that are conducive to mosquito breeding sites. Aedes aegypti.
López, in closing, summarized it: “Vector control, early detection of cases and citizen participation are essential to define how the current outbreak will end. “This problem has a high political-social component.”