New pandemic, there is alarm over the cocktail of viruses arriving from Brazil

New pandemic, there is alarm over the cocktail of viruses arriving from Brazil

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The alarm threshold is high, as high as the number of infections that is putting Brazil in check. It’s the fault of a cocktail of viruses that are acting simultaneously from multiple fronts towards a single objective: to expand as much as possible. In first place there is the Dengue which led to 1.3 million infections. But there is also something else to give her a strong hand: Zika And Chikungunya, who are raising their heads again. Enough to put Rio de Janeiro in emergency. An alarm that also affects Argentina and could also extend to Europe: one flight is enough to bring the viral cocktail to Italy, which for this reason has activated checks at airports and the disinfection of planes: the objective is to prevent the risk of spread of the viruses in question.

Brazil, a viral bomb

Now the situation in Brazil is this. First of all, a Dengue SOS was triggered, which resulted in over 1.3 million infections, 330 confirmed deaths and 767 suspected deaths being investigated by the Ministry of Health, which at the same time reported that it had started investigations into another 767 victims. In the first months of 2024, Brazil recorded a rate of 19,544 infections per day. But the Zika virus has also returned to concern, with 1,035 cases, the highest figure since 2019. Both diseases, in addition to Chikungunya, are transmitted by mosquitoes Aedes aegypti.
Returning to Dengue, a state of emergency was declared in Sao Paulo, after 138,259 cases (300 per 100,000 inhabitants), 31 deaths and 122 suspected deaths. And an emergency has also been declared in the states of Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Acre, Goiás, Espirito Santo and Santa Catarina. In the first two months of 2024 the number of infections in Brazil exceeds those in the same period of 2023 by 390%.

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Pregliasco: “The virus can also strike in Italy”

But, if the countries where the concern is now greatest are Brazil and Argentina, Italy is certainly not calm. Because the risk of “importing” infections is high. The virologist confirms this Fabrizio Pregliasco, medical director of the Galeazzi Hospital in Milan. Who underlines: “This number of cases is just the tip of the iceberg of a larger situation.” The mosquito is present in those countries Aedes aegypti, the specific insect vector of the Dengue and Zika viruses. In Italy the same task is carried out Tiger mosquito, which transmit the disease. The cases that have occurred in Veneto, Lazio and Lombardy have “highlighted that unfortunately our tiger mosquito, which has now become one of the dominant ones, has the ability to spread the disease” explains Pregliasco. Therefore, even if the mosquito is not present in Italy Aedes aegyptiviruses can be “transported” from local ones: it is enough that they have bitten a person who has been infected to spread Dengue.
A growing trend since last year: Italy has counted 82 indigenous cases of Dengue, which occurred directly in the country, and 280 imported from travelers returning from places where the disease is endemic.

Be careful of these viruses

But what diseases are we talking about? First of all, due to the surge in infections caused by Dengue. Of viral origin, it is caused by four very similar viruses (Den-1, Den-2, Den-3 and Den-4) and is transmitted to people by mosquito bites which, in turn, bite an infected person. There is therefore no direct contagion between humans, even if humans are the main host of the virus, which circulates in the blood of the infected person for 2-7 days, a period in which the mosquito can pick it up and transmit it to others.

In the Western Hemisphere the main vector is, in fact, the mosquito Aedes aegyptieven if there have been cases transmitted by Aedes albopictus. As for the symptoms, you need to be careful. If a mosquito carrying Dengue has bitten you, the manifestations can have two distinct forms, depending on whether it is classic or haemorrhagic Dengue. In the first case we are talking about Dengue fever (classic Dengue or dengue fever), which generally manifests itself after an incubation period of 3-15 days, reaching even 40°C, accompanied by chills, headache and profuse sweating. At the onset of the infection there are myalgias, low back pain, severe pain in the legs and joints.

Hemorrhagic Dengue

In the case of haemorrhagic Dengue (severe Dengue or Dengue haemorrhagic fever), in correspondence with the second temperature rise (indistinguishable from the classic variant), thrombocytopenia, fluid depletion and haemorrhagic manifestations develop in the form of petechiae, ecchymoses, epistaxis, blood loss from gums, hematemesis and melena. If left untreated, hemorrhagic fever is potentially fatal: it can lead to collapse and a state of cardiocirculatory shock following the multiplicity and abundance of hemorrhages.

How Zika infection is transmitted

Then there is the Zika virus, which is also capable of causing an infection: it is transmitted by a mosquito, but generally without symptoms. However, it can cause fever, skin rashes, joint pain, or infections of the membrane covering the white part of the eye (conjunctivitis). Additionally, in pregnant women, Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly (a serious birth defect) and eye changes in the baby. The virus is spread by mosquitoes, but can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, with blood transfusions and from a pregnant woman to her baby before or during childbirth.

Chikungunya viral disease

The other virus that is tormenting Brazil is the one that causes Chikungunya, viral disease also in this case transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which causes fever and severe pain. After an incubation period of 2-12 days, fever and joint pain suddenly appear, so severe that they limit movement (hence the name Chikungunya, which in Swahili means “that which curves” or “writhes”). As a result, patients tend to remain absolutely still and assume pain-relieving positions.
Other symptoms are muscle pain, headache, fatigue and skin rash. Joint pain is often debilitating, usually lasting a few days, but can also last for weeks. And that’s not all. The chikungunya virus can trigger acute, subacute or chronic disease.
In most cases, patients recover completely, however in some, joint pain may remain for months or years. Symptoms are often mild and the infection may go unrecognized or misinterpreted, especially in areas where Dengue is present.

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