Paraguay: Dengue outbreak DREF Bulletin No. MDRPY001 Update No.3

Situation Report
Originally published


The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

Period covered by this update: 24 March - 26 April 2007

History of this Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF)-funded operation:

- CHF 68,000 (USD 54,530 or EUR 42,060) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to the needs in this operation. Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

- This operation is expected to be implemented over a 3 month period, and will be completed by 29 April 2007; a Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 29 July 2007).

This operation is aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

Background and current situation

As of 14 April 2007, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MoH) recorded a total of 25,955 confirmed cases of classic dengue fever since the start of the year and throughout the current dengue fever outbreak. There are 52 cases of the hemorrhagic strain of the virus confirmed by laboratory to date, and an additional 43 suspected cases.(1) Thirteen deaths have been officially claimed by the virus, with six deaths attributed to hemorrhagic dengue/shock, five to classic dengue/visceral, and two with serotype unknown.

There are still doubts regarding the official number of cases of dengue fever in the country. Health workers continue to argue that official figures fall between 80-100 percent short of actual cases registered by the MoH and that the actual number of suspected cases may therefore be in the realm of at least 100,000. The results of a survey undertaken by authorities in the Central Department indicate that the 19.9 percent of the department's population have been infected by the virus since the start of the year.(2) The MoH maintains that real figures are lower than this, and furthermore that more precise figures will only be recorded at the end of the outbreak with assistance provided by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

At the beginning of April, the Government recorded an overall decline in the number of consultations and new cases of dengue in the country, although there are significant variations across the country. According to the MoHs recent estimates, the number of dengue consultations has reduced by 70-80 percent in the capital, Asunción and in the Central Department, and is replaced by a rapid increase in the number of consultations due to high rates of Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs) after heavy rains and abrupt fluctuations in temperature. However, whilst the Commission for the Closure of Cases reports that there has been a slow decline in the number of potential dengue cases in the cities of San Lorenzo, Luque and Fernando de la Mora, in other areas the rates of infection are still worryingly high, for example in Lambaré, where 50 new cases are still being reported per day.

Since the Government declared a state of national emergency due to the dengue outbreak, national and local authorities have carried out several actions: The Secretariat of National Emergencies (SEN), who is coordinating the national campaign and joint activities conducted by the Ministry of Environment and the MoH, mobilised teams of health promoters working on dengue prevention at community level, and teams of personnel conducting fumigations with insecticide. The MoH accepted the Central Department's plan to jointly fumigate neighbourhoods to eliminate the mosquito vector starting in Villa Elisa, Ñemby and Itá, where it is hoped that more precise data (on morbidity and mortality rates, decline rates of the virus and of the adult mosquitoes following fumigation activities) will be recorded during the implementation of this departmental plan.

To illustrate the proportions that the issue is taking nation-wide, the authorities in the capital city of Asunción have identified and are set to prosecute 19 property-owners (under Law 716, which sanctions procedures against those who commit offences to the environment) who failed to comply with regulations to clean empty or abandoned plots that have been identified as prime locations where mosquito larvae are produced. These measures have been taken within the framework of the dengue prevention campaign and in the fight against the disease.


(1) Ministry of Public Health & Social Welfare (MoH), Boletín Epidemiológico Semanal, (Epidemiological Week 15, 08-14/04/2007).

(2) Survey undertaken by the Health Council of the Central Department and executed by the Office of the Study of Public Opinion, in which among the 599 people interviewed, 19.9 percent had been infected by the dengue virus since January 2007. Central Department Survey, March 2007.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Paraguay: Dr. Luis Fernando Díaz de Bedoya - President of the National Society of the Red Cross in Paraguay, e-mail: , phone (595) 21-208199, fax (595) 21-211 560

In Lima: Giorgio Ferrario, Head, Regional Delegation for South America,, phone (511) 221 8151, fax (511) 441 3607

In Panama: Stephen McAndrew, Head, Pan American Disaster Response Unit; e-mail, phone (507) 316-1001; fax (507) 316-1082

In Geneva: Olaug Bergseth, Federation Regional Officer, Americas Department, Geneva; e-mail, phone (41) 22-730-4535; fax (41) 22-733-0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

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