Dengue Fever Outbreak Far Worse Than Swine Flu

By the time all is said and done, this year’s dengue fever outbreak in South America might be considered one of the worst viral epidemics ever recorded. In Bolivia alone, there were at least 55,000 suspected cases by mid-April. Paraguay and Argentina were also hard hit, but the disease ran most rampant in Brazil, where a whopping 150,000 people were infected with the life threatening disease.

Meanwhile, in Australia, where there are tighter controls in place to help prevent such outbreaks, over 1,000 people were still confirmed as being infected with dengue fever this year. That surpasses the previous record, which was set way back in 1953. Even more foreboding, the outbreak in 1953 continued for several years, and anecdotal evidence suggests that as many as 15,000 people may have been infected over that period of time. Thus, there are concerns that this year’s outbreak may be an indication of things to come.

As weather cools in the Southern Hemisphere, concerns about the outbreak shift toward the Northern Hemisphere, where the changing seasons could bring similar outbreaks. In fact, just last year there were over one million reported cases of dengue fever in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Pan American Health Organization. If the epidemic in South America is any indication, this summer could be even worse.