Cartagena warns of potential Dengue and Chikungunya outbreaks

Cartagena's colonial streets/Richard Emblin

Local health authorities in Colombia’s port city of Cartagena are warning of outbreaks of the mosquito-transmitted diseases Chikungunya and Dengue given favorable climatic conditions for the proliferation of the Aedes Aegypti. The last major outbreak of Chikungunya in Colombia (ChikV) occurred between 2013 and 2017 resulting in over 280,000 infected persons with severe joint pain and a host of neurological disorders. The Aedes Aegyti also carries Yellow Fever and Zika. There is no medical treatment for ChiKV.

To curb the spread of potentially life-threatening tropical diseases caused by mosquitoes that reproduce in stagnant pools of water, waste dumps, and sewage pipes, Cartagena’s Administrative Health Department (Dadis) has begun fumigating neighborhoods where dengue cases have been reported. The entity is also calling on locals and visitors alike to use strong anti-repellents, mosquito nets, protective clothing and avoid consuming food and water that hasn’t been properly treated. The cold nights and hot days that Cartagena residents have been experiencing are ideal climatic conditions for the reproduction of the mosquito.

Predicting an increase in tropical infections, Colombia’s Ministry of Health released a statement this week in which it also advised citizens to exercise “extreme precautions” where the Aedes Aegypti vector is known to circulate, especially breeding areas that include swamps, wetlands, and subtropical forests.

Jairo Hernández Márquez of the Ministry of Health stated that the climate prediction from IDEAM (Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environmental Studies), indicates increased rainfall across the Caribbean lowlands, Middle Magdalena River basin, Orinoquia, northern Amazon and the central Andes. The departments of Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Córdoba, La Guajira and San Andrés are most prone to Dengue outbreaks, with cases of Zika and Chikungunya expected to increase in the departments of Casanare and Norte de Santander.