The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced on Wednesday that the organization is getting ready for a rise in the spread of viral diseases such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya, which are associated with the El Nino weather phenomenon.
El Nino, characterized by higher water surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, has recently returned after three years of the La Nina climate pattern. This resurgence is expected to bring extreme weather conditions later this year, including tropical cyclones heading towards vulnerable Pacific islands, heavy rainfall in South America, and drought in parts of Australia and Asia.
Ghebreyesus stated that the WHO is preparing for a high probability of an El Nino event in 2023 and 2024, which could lead to increased transmission of dengue and other arboviruses such as Zika and chikungunya. He also warned about the impact of climate change on mosquito breeding and highlighted the significant rise in dengue cases, particularly in the Americas, over the past few decades.
This year, Peru has declared a state of emergency in most regions due to a surge in dengue cases, leading to the resignation of its health minister, Rosa Gutierrez. Dengue is transmitted through mosquito bites from the Aedes aegypti species and manifests symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.