Colombian government fears dengue fever epidemic

Colombian authorities expressed concerns on Monday that the spread of dengue fever could become an epidemic in the rural regions along its borders.

Colombia’s Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio warned that “all of our borders have the presence of transmittable diseases” because they are “less than 1,800 meters above sea level” and that “the area on the boarder with Ecuador is critical,” with regards to the spread of dengue fever, reported Caracol Radio on Monday.

Palacio went on to explain that the government is seeking to set up bilateral agreements with neighboring countries in order to contain the spread of the disease.

According to Palacio, Colombia will work to sign an agreement with Ecuador within the next week. “We raised the possibility of signing a bilateral agreement [with Ecuador] that lets us conduct activities together in order to confront dengue fever in the rural border areas, and carry out activities of education, prevention, diagnostics, and treatment.”

The most recent report from the National Health Institute in Colombia shows that in the last year, eighteen people have died and another 15,000 have been infected by dengue fever in the country.

The Colombian authorities have been concerned for several months now about the spread of mosquito-transmitted diseases such as dengue and malaria, following an exceptionally hot and dry season.

A state of emergency was declared in Cali several weeks ago after an outbreak of dengue fever killed at least nine people there.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-born, life-threatening disease similar to malaria, which occurs widely in tropical regions of the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two-fifths of the world’s population, or 2.5 billion people, are at risk of the disease, and that “there may be 50 million dengue infections worldwide every year.”

The WHO estimate that dengue fever is “now endemic in more than 100 countries.”

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