Cases of the mosquito-borne infectious tropical diseases increased in Brazil, in the wake of a serious drought last year. Severe water shortages led residents to store water in open receptacles, which facilitated the spread of dengue.
The Health Ministry revealed that the cases of dengue have sharply soared in Brazil with 229 fatalities this year. The authorities are trying to combat the spread of dengue using transgenic mosquitoes. These genetically modified mosquitoes pass on a modified gene during procreation that makes offspring incapable of reaching sexual maturity, causing the overall population to decline steadily.
The health ministry said it had logged 745,900 cases nationwide in the first 15 weeks of the year, an annual increase of 234%. The figures equates to 367.8 people infected per 100,000 residents, which falls into the category of an epidemic under parameters used by the World Health Organization.
The number of dengue deaths has climbed 44% from the same period last year, and most of the diagnosed cases have occurred in business hub Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo has seen 169 fatalities and 401,564 cases this year, a high since records began in 1990.
Last Thursday the city of Piracicaba, located 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of Sao Paulo, released its first batch of 100,000 transgenic male mosquitoes in reaction to the growing crisis. Piracicaba health authorities and British firm Oxitec last year opened a facility at Campinas, near Sao Paulo, able to produce 550,000 modified mosquitoes weekly.