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El Salvador: 2022 Dengue

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  • El Salvador: 2022 Dengue


    El Salvador exceeds 12,000 suspected cases of dengue
    The cumulative number of suspected dengue cases is the highest in the last three years, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health. The larval index in San Salvador exceeds four times the ideal established by the authorities.
    By Maryelos Cea
    August 15, 2022 - 00:00 HS

    So far in 2022, health authorities have detected more than 12,000 suspected cases of dengue, exceeding the figures reported in the same period of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

    The latest epidemiological bulletin from the Ministry of Health (MINSAL), published on August 10, collects data from the first week of the year to week 31, the latter from July 31 to August 6.

    In those 31 weeks of the year, the ministry identified 12,427 suspected cases of dengue, a disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This represents an increase of 317.2% compared to the same period of the previous year, data from the government bulletin indicate. In 2021, in those same weeks, the country accumulated 2,979 suspected cases, so the 2022 data implies that 9,448 more have been detected than a year ago.

    From week 23, the MINSAL began to compare the data of 2022 with that of 2019, which created a virtual decrease in the variation of most of the diseases covered by the epidemiological bulletin. However, in the case of suspected dengue, the 2022 statistics also exceed the 11,823 in 2019 and the 4,066 in 2020.

    For the moment, the MINSAL has not stopped publishing the suspected cases of dengue detected last year, but its decision to compare with 2019 no longer makes it possible to know with certainty how other variables of the disease have changed compared to 2021, such as probable cases, confirmed cases with or without warning signs, confirmed cases of severe dengue, total confirmed cases of dengue, hospitalizations and deaths.

    On repeated occasions, the Minister of Health, Francisco Alabi, has played down the importance of the increase in suspected cases of dengue, alleging that a low percentage of them test positive for the disease when they undergo the respective tests.

    "We have identified in confirmatory tests that 65% of suspected cases are not dengue," he recently said in an interview with YSKL radio. On that occasion, the official added that the definition of a suspected dengue case "is very broad" and the symptoms may be due to other ailments. "You, just by having a fever and a symptom such as headache, retroocular pain or nausea, can already be classified as a suspect," he said in the aforementioned interview.

    However, the epidemiological bulletins of the same ministry reveal that few tests have been carried out throughout the year, compared to the number of suspected cases and even hospitalizations. Until week 31, the MINSAL said it had carried out 1,679 tests, compared to more than 12,000 suspected cases and 1,477 hospitalizations accumulated in the same period.

    According to MINSAL, up to week 31, 34 probable cases and 52 confirmed cases of dengue were reported. Of the latter, 42 were with and without an alarm sign, while the remaining 10 corresponded to serious conditions. At the moment no deaths are reported.

    Suspected cases of other mosquito-borne diseases have also registered an increase in 2022. In the case of chikungunya, up to week 31, 109 suspicions were accumulated and another 128 corresponded to Zika, with increases of 73 and 106.5% compared to with 2021.

    Health authorities have also explained that mosquito-borne diseases tend to increase during the rainy season, because the insect lays its eggs in stagnant water. In week 31 of the year, an average of seven out of every 100 households reported mosquito breeding sites, almost twice as many as the ideal, which is 4 out of every 100. But in the department of San Salvador, the average was higher: 18 out of every 100.