SAO PAULO – Officials in Brazil’s largest city made a request Thursday for help from the army to contain a surge in the number of cases of dengue fever, from 3,183 in the first quarter of 2014 to 8,063 during the same period this year.
Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad told a press conference he will ask for at least 50 soldiers to accompany municipal health officials in house-to-house inspections aimed at eradicating breeding areas for the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the disease.
People trust the military and will be more likely to cooperate with inspections if soldiers are present, Haddad said.
“We have already contacted the army and as soon as they provide us with support, a municipal team will train the soldiers before they go out on the task,” the mayor said.
Despite the much higher incidence of dengue compared with last year, Haddad said the situation in the city is not as serious as in the surrounding state of Sao Paulo, where health authorities have declared an epidemic.
Four people have died of dengue this year in the city and the municipality has set up tents outside clinics and doctors’ offices to assess people who fear they may be infected.
Nationwide there were 460,500 dengue cases during the first three months of the year, a 240.1 percent increase over the same period in 2014, according to Health Ministry figures.
At least 132 people have died of dengue in Brazil during the first 12 weeks of 2015, a 29 percent increase over the same period last year.