Brazil is currently experiencing a serious outbreak of dengue fever. In the first four weeks of the year, 217,841 probable cases were registered in the South American country, the Ministry of Health said.
That was more than three times as many cases as in the same period a year earlier. The health authorities also counted 15 confirmed deaths and 149 others were still being investigated.
The heavy rains and high temperatures of the past few months are likely to be the trigger for the sharp increase. The yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which transmits the dengue viruses, can develop particularly well under these conditions. A vaccination campaign with a new vaccine against dengue fever is scheduled to begin in Brazil in February.
Dengue fever - sometimes called "bone-breaking disease" because of the pain - is widespread in the tropics and subtropics. However, the course of the disease is often mild and not everyone infected becomes ill.