Brazil has registered nearly 746,000 cases of the mosquito-borne disease dengue fever this year with nine states experiencing an epidemic, the health ministry has announced. At 368 cases per 100,000 residents it amounts to an epidemic by World Health Organisation standards, but officials say the outbreak is not nationwide.

Relaxed prevention and an increase in home water storage have been blamed. More than half of the cases were in Sao Paulo. The number of cases there – the most populous state – has tripled since last year. Nationwide there have been 235% more cases than in the same period (from January to 18 April) last year.

The increase in home water tanks during the drought has created more egg-laying habitants The potentially deadly virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. A total of 229 people have died of the disease.  Brazil has done much to counter the viral infection spread by mosquitoes which causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting and circulatory system failure.

Health Minister Arthur Chioro argued that figures for last year were exceptionally low, whereas the outbreak in 2013 had been a lot worse than now. He said better results last year had relaxed prevention in some regions.

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