Businesses, schools and government offices will remain closed in Cape Verde on Friday for a day of mobilisation in an attempt to curb a dengue epidemic which has killed four people since Sunday, authorities announced Wednesday.
The World Health Organisation said last week that this is the first dengue epidemic ever recorded in the Cape Verde islands off the coast of West Africa. The Cape Verdean authorities said that since October 1, they have recorded almost 7,000 suspected cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne disease for which there is no treatment and no vaccine.
"We want to mobilise the entire society for this fight because the most important way to fight the epidemic is to interrupt the cycle of the transmission through the (mosquito) vector of the disease," Cape Verde's Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves said Wednesday.
Dengue viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Aedes mosquitoes, who get the disease from biting people who are already infected.
The prime minister called on all Cape Verdeans to join the fight against dengue by eradicating the breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquitoes. The mosquitoes multiply in containers for water storage and other items, like discarded food containers or used car tires, which collect rainwater.
Dengue causes a severe flu-like illness which seldom causes death but it can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever which is potentially deadly, the WHO said.
According to the organisation, dengue incidences have "grown dramatically around the world in recent decades" and the WHO estimates that two fifths of the world population are now at risk from dengue.