Health experts from Barbados and Jamaica were among counterparts from 21 countries that exchanged experiences and best practices in the diagnosis of dengue, clinical management of patients and surveillance.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said the two-day workshop earlier this week was organized in conjunction with the Brazilian Ministry of Health and the Singapore Cooperation Programme in Brasilia.
The first International Asia-Latin America Workshop on Diagnosis, Clinical Management and Dengue Surveillance, which ended on Thursday, was cited as “an opportunity for learning and exchange for health professionals in the region, where the diagnosis of dengue has become more complex since 2013 due to the circulation of other arboviruses such as Zika and chikungunya, which present similar clinical pictures,” PAHO said.
It said dengue fever is the world’s most widely-spread mosquito-borne viral infection, with some 390 million infections reported annually, “and is a serious public health problem.”
Raman Velayudhan, the coordinator for Ecology and Vector Management at the World Health Organization (WHO), said it is “the disease of the century, with a very undefined distribution.
“While malaria is declining, dengue is growing. One mosquito is replaced by another,” he said, describing dengue as a “dynamic and at the same time neglected disease.”
Velayudhan said the vectors – Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito – have the ability to transmit at least four diseases, and that dengue is “the biggest threat due to climate and environmental change, which facilitates the adaptation of vectors.
“These mosquitoes are able to store eggs in many different places. How can we eliminate them all? On a large scale, it will be a virtually impossible challenge, so we have to bring the population to a level of awareness for this to happen,” said Velayudhan, stating that WHO has been working on a number of tools and technologies to assist countries in vector control.
The first records of dengue in the region date back 400 years, according to José Luis San Martín, PAHO’s regional advisor for dengue control.
“America is a continent with a long history of virus circulation. In the 1980s, there was stabilization, but this cycle has been disrupted in the last four years with the entry of Chikungunya and Zika viruses,” he said. “Since then, areas that had not reported transmission began reporting cases.”