The Minister of Health, Nancy Perez, spoke today on the status of two diseases currently affecting Venezuelans: chikungunya and dengue fever. Perez confirmed that so far in 2014, there have been 398 cases of chikungunya and 45,745 cases of dengue fever in the country.
Both diseases are mosquito-borne. The mortality rate for dengue fever ranges between 1-5%. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the mortality for chikungunya during an outbreak in Africa in 2005-2006 was nearly 0%.
Perez conceded that the country is experiencing a shortage of acetaminophen, a medicine used as a pain killer and fever reducer used to combat the symptoms of the diseases. However, Perez assured, the government is doing all it can to resolve the shortage.
Doctors Want Emergency Declared
The head of the infectious diseases department at the Hospital Universitario de Caracas, Maria Eugenia Landaeta, called on the government today to declare the chikungunya outbreak an emergency. Landaeta said:
It’s the first thing you should do because that allows for planification and for the allocation of resources to attack the virus.
Landaeta also speculated that the nine unexplained deaths over the last week in Aragua might have been the result of complications from the disease. She said:
What we’re thinking, based on the symptoms, is that it could be an instance of complicated cases of chikungunya.
She also dismissed the rumours that the disease might be ebola, saying that as far as she was aware none of the victims had any contact whatsoever with anyone from Africa. Landaeta also called on Venezuelans to think critically, and to not fall into a “collective panic” regarding these diseases.
Alleged Ongoing Confrontation Leaves Students Injured
An alleged ongoing confrontation in or around the Universidad de Los Andes campus in Tachira state between students and security forces has left at least one student injured. The student appears to have been shot with rubber pellets:
The confrontation appear to have started at approximately 4:30 PM local time.