This Thursday, 02, Rio Grande do Sul reached the mark of 43 deaths in 2023 due to dengue. In five months, the State already registers, proportionally, more deaths than in 2022, when 66 were reported throughout the year – a record in the historical series so far.
Lethality also draws attention. While 2022 had 68,000 cases of dengue, with one death for every 1,030 infected patients, 2023 had, so far, one death for every 452 patients. Of the 19,457 cases of dengue since January, 17,777 were autochthonous, that is, contracted without the patient having traveled. The Panel of Dengue RS Cases also shows that the transmitting mosquito – the Aedes aegypti – already infests 459 of the 497 cities in Rio Grande do Sul this year.
Three deaths were confirmed on Thursday. According to the State Center for Health Surveillance, two of them occurred on May 25: that of a 70-year-old man, with comorbidities and a resident of Santa Maria, and an 88-year-old woman, residing in Ijuí – the city that leads the ranking. of deaths from dengue this year, with eight so far. Last Tuesday, a resident of Não-Me-Toque also couldn’t resist.
According to Catia Favreto, responsible for the Arboviruses Program at the State Health Surveillance Center (CEVS), there is no exact explanation for why the lethality rate increased in 2023. “What we can say is that unfortunately the highest number of deaths it involved elderly people who already had some comorbidity, previous illnesses, people who were more vocal about any problem. Another possibility for the skyrocketing of deaths is the increase in dengue reinfections, which increases the chances of the disease worsening, ”she explains.
Cátia also warns that the population seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms appear. “Look for any service, any public health gateway, such as basic health units, emergency care, hospital emergencies, or even your reference doctor, only a qualified medical service can tell if the symptoms are compatible with dengue or not. .”
There are four serotypes for the virus: 1, 2, 3 and 4. In Rio Grande do Sul, dengue 1 has always been more prevalent. Since last year, tests carried out at the Central Laboratory of the State (Lacen) have admired, in some cities, the co-circulation of dengue 2. Specialists warn that dengue only manifests itself once in a lifetime for each serotype. The patient acquires against this lineage of the virus and no longer develops the disease, but remains susceptible to the others. If caused, reinfection leaves the organism more exposed to the most critical form of dengue. Signs of aggravation include more concentrated abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bleeding, for example.
Catia Favreto also points out that there is no way of knowing whether the people who died have already developed dengue on previous occasions, since 80% of the population may be asymptomatic. “With very mild symptoms, the person does not seek medical attention because it improves quickly, so there is no way of knowing if the fatal victims have already had dengue in the past”, she acknowledges.
For the PhD in neurosciences from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Ufrgs) and professor at the Unisinos School of Health Mellanie Fontes-Dutra, one of the reasons that may explain the increase in the lethality rate is late diagnosis.
– The person seeks this medical support when the body is already more weakened by the presence of the virus. Many signs and symptoms of dengue can be easily confused with other diseases such as Covid. The person may experience body aches, fever, malaise, and this overlaps with other illnesses and may explain the delay in seeking help at a health center –, consider.
In addition to late diagnosis, the circulation of different serotypes in the same region and climatic conditions, with the dominance of rainy days, may help explain the increase in lethality.