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Victory Day to combat dengue fever – 01/03/2024 – Sou Ciência

Victory Day to combat dengue fever – 01/03/2024 – Sou Ciência

Science has provided us with evidence, for more than a hundred years, of the virus that causes dengue fever. It is unbelievable that we have known about it for so long, as well as how it is transmitted, and are still so far from controlling it. On the contrary, the information we have is that the number of cases is increasing year after year. In 2024, the disease had previously spread in Brazil and had already spread to several countries in South America.

Climate change, the lack of combative politics, and the decline in support for the unified system have greatly influenced this scenario in recent years. Gone are the days when São Paulo and other municipalities had health agents who caught mosquitoes, whose primary role was to instruct residents and show them how to control disease vectors. Today we have strong climate change, four known variables, an overburdened health care system, and little willingness on the part of various municipal governments to participate in this fight. We know how dengue fever occurs and how to treat it (thanks to scientific knowledge), but despite this, the disease is spreading.

The dengue virus arrived in Brazil in the 19th century. And few people know that Brazil already had researchers on this topic at that time. Under the responsibility of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz), before the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the pioneering work of virologist Hermann Schatzmeier has yielded a monumental result: the isolation of the dengue vector virus. Later, three different types were discovered: DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4. Science has also discovered how the virus is transmitted by mosquitoes Aedes aegypti. From the moment of its isolation until now, Brazil has seen a few epidemics, although the first was documented in 1982. It is clear that the virus has been among us for a long time and that climate change, global warming and rainfall constants have encouraged the spread of the virus.

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Dengue vaccines are not yet available to everyone, as they have only been produced recently. It was only possible to approve its widespread use after clinical efficacy and safety studies. However, the laboratory that produces it does not have the capacity to distribute the volume needed to meet Brazilian demand. On the other hand, the mission is focused on ourselves, because even if we have enough vaccines for the entire population, the benefit may not lead to timely immunization.

Given this, we are left with only two options: 1) control mosquitoes and 2) identify and treat people infected with the disease. Controlling the vector mosquitoes is effective, as they are responsible for transmitting the virus, and by combating them, its spread can be controlled. This action is urgent, as this week we crossed the mark of more than one million recorded dengue cases. This number is certainly higher, as many of them are not counted and will be excluded from official data.

Relying on effective public policies, engaged governments, strengthening and supporting the unified health system to deal with the large number of cases, as well as implementing awareness campaigns and engaging the entire population, are part of the package of actions that will solve the problem.

That's why the campaign was launched before Ministry of Health Which starts on March 2nd. This year's campaign will include many initiatives, including in schools and sectors other than education. Necessary measures must be taken to eliminate the vector, as 75% of mosquito outbreaks occur in homes. Therefore, everyone can work, publish, and work for citizen science. With the participation of residents and following the guidelines of awareness campaigns, it is possible to reduce damage and save lives.

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These are essential actions to provide immediate solutions to solve the problem. Although we do not have the necessary measures to control global warming and torrential rains, we will have to look for alternatives by engaging and awareness of science – and the best that can come from it – to clarify and transform reality.

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