Brazil: Dengue epidemic puts Carnival in doubt

An epidemic of Dengue fever has so far infected 18,000 people in and around Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Capital of Carnival, as the politicians blame each other.

The current epidemic has caused only one death so far but the 18,000 cases confirmed has put the city’s hospitals at breaking point. In the run-up to Carnival, the main festivities taking place on Sunday and Monday, the authorities are blaming each other for not having taken action earlier, as foreign VIPs, including Barbara Bush, mother of the US President, pour into the city.

Two of the politicians currently bickering are candidates for the Presidential elections in October, namely, the governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Anthony Garotinho (Socialist Party) and the Health Minister, Jose Serra (PSDB), along with the Prefect (Mayor) of Rio de Janeiro, who is also under fire. As municipality-blames-state-blames federal authorities and the buck is so predictably passed on, the fact is that 18,000 people are ill, the disease is spreading and the VIPs are starting to arrive. Supermodel Naomi Campbell is already in town, Barbara Bush arrives tomorrow.

The Union of Doctors of Rio de Janeiro has advised foreigners and people from other parts of Brazil to steer clear of Rio.

Dengue Fever is caused by the bite of the mosquito Aedes Aegypti. Initial symptoms are ’flu-like, with a high fever, listlessness and vomiting, often with a headache, but the disease can develop into a haemorrhagic fever, this being more serious with symptoms like Ebola.

Rio traditionally suffers from outbreaks of Dengue, as do other regions in Brazil’s rainy seasons, which are in curiously in January, in Rio de Janeiro.


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