Posted in Issue 111 - April 2009 Member Countries
PAHO, with assistance from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), started a project that attempts to enhance Latin American and Caribbean countries’ capacity to cope with epidemics, establish a regional epidemic control team and develop a field guide for investigation and control of the four most frequent communicable diseases with potential for epidemics encountered in the region: malaria, dengue, leptospirosis and yellow fever.
Due to the increasing incidence of natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean, in particular flooding caused by hurricanes, tropical storms and the El Niño and La Niña phenomena, communicable disease outbreaks are becoming more and more a public health threat in the region.
In 2007-2008, the Caribbean countries as well as Nicaragua, Bolivia, Paraguay and Colombia all suffered from flooding and, as a consequence, were exposed to epidemics of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria, yellow fever and leptospirosis.
During the period 2007-2008 several important outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases occurred in the region. Notably, dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever activity was higher than in any year since 1981. Furthermore, the outbreak of yellow fever in Paraguay during the first quarter of 2008 was the largest ever recorded in the country’s history, causing 28 cases and 11 deaths.
Starting in 2007, a yellow fever epizootic wave affected the south of Brazil, the north of Argentina and spread afterwards to Paraguay in 2008. Some yellow fever clusters in Paraguay were related to urban transmission which was not registered for more than 50 years in the American continent.