Latin America, Caribbean Set for Record Dengue Season

WASHINGTON — Latin America and the Caribbean should prepare for their worst dengue season ever, as global warming and the El Niño climate phenomenon fuel the mosquito-borne epidemic, a U.N. health agency warned Thursday.

In less than three months in 2024, regional health authorities have already tallied more than 3.5 million cases and a thousand deaths from the virus, which is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“Probably this will be the worst dengue season [in the region],” said Jarbas Barbosa, director of the Pan American Health Organization.

The 3.5 million cases recorded so far are three times more than the number of infections at this point in 2023, a record year that saw 4.5 million cases, Barbosa said.

Dengue, which can cause hemorrhagic fever, is common in hotter countries and occurs mainly in urban and semi-urban areas.

It infects an estimated 100 million to 400 million people yearly, though most cases are mild or asymptomatic, according to the World Health Organization.

The increase in the number of infections is seen in all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, but especially in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, which represent 92% of all cases and 87% of deaths. 

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