A major malaria epidemic continues to spread in Bolívar (southeast). According to the Ministry of Health, 175,000 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been detected in the state since the beginning of the year (as of mid-April). Another 400,000 cases were reported in the state in 2017. Anti-mosquito efforts (fumigation, etc.) were reported launched on April 9.
Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, nausea, and body aches; early symptoms usually appear between seven and 15 days after the contaminating mosquito bite. There is no vaccine but preventive medications are available. Generally speaking, the risk of contracting malaria is highest at night (between dusk and dawn), when the mosquitoes that transmit the disease are most active.
Malaria was officially eradicated in the country some 50 years ago and cases were relatively rare prior to the current outbreak, ongoing since 2015. The return of the disease has been attributed in large part to a surge in illegal mining practices (triggered by the ongoing economic crisis), which leave open pits where stagnant water collects, creating fertile mosquito breeding grounds. Diphtheria and measles have also made a resurgence in the country. These outbreaks come amid a multi-front crisis in Venezuela, with major shortages of medications and medical supplies (as well as food and other necessities), among various other issues. On average, more than eight out of ten medications are difficult or impossible to find in the country, including artemisinin derivatives, used to treat P. falciparum cases.
Various other mosquito-borne diseases are also present in Venezuela, including dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya.
Individuals in Venezuela, notably Bolívar state, are advised to take measures to prevent mosquito bites and to consult their doctor regarding medication options.
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