A survey carried out by Ipec (Intelligence in Research and Consulting), at the request of the biopharmaceutical Takeda and with the scientific coordination of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI) showed that the pandemic has disrupted the perception – already confused – of Brazilians on dengue fever.
Unlike covid-19, dengue fever is far from new and is one of the diseases with the highest contagion rate per year in Brazil. In the study, the researchers found that for 31% of respondents, the disease “no longer exists”.
2,000 people over the age of 18, from all social classes and regions of the country, were interviewed in October 2021. The questionnaire was applied by telephone, and the margin of error is two percentage points, with an interval of 95% confidence.
“The reality revealed by the investigation is worrying. With the urgency of the Covid-19 pandemic, many infectious diseases, such as arboviruses (dengue fever), have been pushed into the background and even forgotten. We need to resume discussion and care with dengue fever, focusing on disseminating information and awareness campaigns that encourage prevention,” says Alberto Chebabo, infectious disease physician and president of SBI.
Dengue fever perception
According to the study, 31% of respondents bet that the disease ceased to exist during the pandemic; although 69% answered that they were afraid of catching the disease.
For 53%, the risk of contagion remained the same, while 25% said they believed it had increased. Attention is drawn to the justifications that 22% gave when responding that it has decreased: for them, every disease is now covid-19, increasing the perception that the country no longer has dengue cases. Another 28% said they had not heard of the disease.
Both responses point to the need to strengthen awareness campaigns on the contagion and treatment of dengue fever, which has been somewhat neglected since the start of the pandemic.
Another data that corroborates this need is the lack of knowledge of Brazilians about the characteristics of dengue fever, such as the number of times it is possible to catch it – only 2% chose the correct answer, up to four times ; 56% said they didn’t know and 16% assumed a person could have an unlimited number of infections.
The perception of 48% is that dengue care has decreased due to covid-19.
contagion and symptoms
When it comes to contagion, however, people associate dengue fever with risky situations such as age (57%), low immunity (80%), or never having been in contact with the disease ( 58%).
The real factors, such as accumulated water (99%), dirty environments and places without basic sanitation (96%), were fortunately held up by a large part of the population.
Fever, body aches and headaches were the most mentioned in both the main symptom and general symptom questions, and 61% of people said they would see a doctor if they were suspected of having disease. Actions such as drinking plenty of fluids and resting are also considered essential by the population.
How to avoid
The fight against dengue fever is a joint effort involving the government and the population, and for 91% of respondents, the disease can be avoided. However, 45% recall that it is not possible to control the care of others.
Simple, everyday actions were recalled by those who consider mosquito control possible – 69% stressed not leaving standing water and 29% remembered cleaning their backyard; 23% talked about standing water in small plant dishes and 21% about leaking water tanks and water tanks.
Even so, of the 30% who responded that they had had dengue fever, only 55% said they had made modifications to the home to prevent Aedes Aegypt from breeding.
According to the Ministry of Health, in the first six weeks of 2022, Brazil recorded 70,555 probable cases of dengue fever. The number is 43.5% higher than that recorded in the same period in 2021.
Over the past year there have been 544,460 cases, rising to over a million in 2020, indicating a high likelihood of under-reporting amid the worsening wave of covid-19 .