In hard-hit Peru, worry mounts over both COVID-19 and dengue

  • Clouds of insecticide seep into a dining room during a fumigation operation to help control the spread of dengue fever, in downtown Pucallpa, Peru, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Clouds of insecticide seep into a dining room during a fumigation operation to help control the spread of dengue fever, in downtown Pucallpa, Peru, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Lidia Choque eats her lunch in a ward designated for patients diagnosed with dengue and the new coronavirus, at a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. The 53-year-old woman stayed nearly two weeks in the ward with eight female dengue patients, riddled with anxiety over her condition. "I felt desperate," she said.

    Lidia Choque eats her lunch in a ward designated for patients diagnosed with dengue and the new coronavirus, at a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. The 53-year-old woman stayed nearly two weeks in the ward with eight female dengue patients, riddled with anxiety over her condition. "I felt desperate," she said. Associated Press

  • Illuminated with candles and a cell phone blue light, a doctor examines the lifeless body of Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in a relative's home in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Illuminated with candles and a cell phone blue light, a doctor examines the lifeless body of Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in a relative's home in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Relatives accompany the coffin that contains the remains of Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, as they travel by boat on Peru's Ucayali River, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Despite the risk, family members decided to travel by night to Barbaran's hometown of Palestina, a four-hour journey.

    Relatives accompany the coffin that contains the remains of Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, as they travel by boat on Peru's Ucayali River, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Despite the risk, family members decided to travel by night to Barbaran's hometown of Palestina, a four-hour journey. Associated Press

  • Barbaran family members eat lunch prior to the burial ceremony of their relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Barbaran family members eat lunch prior to the burial ceremony of their relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one of the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Barbaran family members eat lunch prior to the burial service of their relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Barbaran family members eat lunch prior to the burial service of their relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Barbaran family members pay their final respects to relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Barbaran family members pay their final respects to relative Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Relatives and neighbors attend the burial service for Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Relatives and neighbors attend the burial service for Jose Barbaran who is believed to have died from complications related to the new coronavirus, in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Valentina Esperanza, who is recovering from dengue, sits on her bed protected by mosquito netting as she watches a television program at her home in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. In the Peruvian Amazon a mounting number of dengue patients are filling up hospital beds that months before were overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

    Valentina Esperanza, who is recovering from dengue, sits on her bed protected by mosquito netting as she watches a television program at her home in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. In the Peruvian Amazon a mounting number of dengue patients are filling up hospital beds that months before were overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Associated Press

  • Leila Ramirez, who is suffering from dengue, stands in her doorway as a member of the campaign against dengue documents their visit on the wood siding of her home, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Five members in Ramirez's family were diagnosed with dengue in late September, but have since recovered. In recent weeks, health officials have reported over 33,000 dengue cases, concentrated largely in the Amazon.

    Leila Ramirez, who is suffering from dengue, stands in her doorway as a member of the campaign against dengue documents their visit on the wood siding of her home, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. Five members in Ramirez's family were diagnosed with dengue in late September, but have since recovered. In recent weeks, health officials have reported over 33,000 dengue cases, concentrated largely in the Amazon. Associated Press

  • Corazona Pena's body lies in a coffin, wrapped in plastic by a Peruvian COVID-19 specialized government team in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    Corazona Pena's body lies in a coffin, wrapped in plastic by a Peruvian COVID-19 specialized government team in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst virus outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

  • Suffering from a high fever related to dengue, 72-year-old Luz Rengifo rests inside her home, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. A portrait of her mother Gertrudis Rengifo, who died last August from dengue at the age of 96, hangs in the background.

    Suffering from a high fever related to dengue, 72-year-old Luz Rengifo rests inside her home, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. A portrait of her mother Gertrudis Rengifo, who died last August from dengue at the age of 96, hangs in the background. Associated Press

  • A light rain falls as 20-year-old Deyla Arce Soria stands in a doorway lamenting the death of her mother Jessica Soria Gonzales, a Shipibo Amazonian Indigenous artist who died from complications related to the new cornavirus at the age of 50, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

    A light rain falls as 20-year-old Deyla Arce Soria stands in a doorway lamenting the death of her mother Jessica Soria Gonzales, a Shipibo Amazonian Indigenous artist who died from complications related to the new cornavirus at the age of 50, in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Associated Press

  • An actor who was hired by the government to assume the role of a mosquito is engulfed by clouds of pesticide during a fumigation campaign against dengue in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease also known as "breakbone fever" for its severely painful symptoms.

    An actor who was hired by the government to assume the role of a mosquito is engulfed by clouds of pesticide during a fumigation campaign against dengue in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease also known as "breakbone fever" for its severely painful symptoms. Associated Press

  • Rolando Cegarra nuzzles his 4-month-old grandson, inside his home in the Caimito Native Community, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020.

    Rolando Cegarra nuzzles his 4-month-old grandson, inside his home in the Caimito Native Community, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020. Associated Press

  • A COVID-19 patient is assisted by an artificial respirator in the intensive care unit of a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue.

    A COVID-19 patient is assisted by an artificial respirator in the intensive care unit of a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue. Associated Press

  • Doctors transfer a COVID-19 patient from a stretcher onto a hospital bed in the intensive care unit of a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue.

    Doctors transfer a COVID-19 patient from a stretcher onto a hospital bed in the intensive care unit of a public hospital in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue. Associated Press

  • Doris Perez rests in a special section for patients who suffers both from dengue and the new coronavirus, in a public hospital in Pucallpa, Ucayali region, Peru, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. In the Peruvian Amazon a mounting number of dengue patients are filling up hospital beds that months before were overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Some are told they have both illness when they arrive sick at the hospital.

    Doris Perez rests in a special section for patients who suffers both from dengue and the new coronavirus, in a public hospital in Pucallpa, Ucayali region, Peru, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. In the Peruvian Amazon a mounting number of dengue patients are filling up hospital beds that months before were overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Some are told they have both illness when they arrive sick at the hospital. Associated Press

  • Amazonian residents rest in hammocks as they travel on a public boat to Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Peru, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue.

    Amazonian residents rest in hammocks as they travel on a public boat to Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Peru, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue. Associated Press

  • Children play a game of soldiers on the banks of the Ucayali River in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Peru, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019.

    Children play a game of soldiers on the banks of the Ucayali River in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Peru, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. Associated Press

  • Amazonian residents wait for a public boat to leave the Pucallpa port, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue.

    Amazonian residents wait for a public boat to leave the Pucallpa port, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. In the city of Pucallpa, doctors say they are beginning to encounter patients with the double diagnosis of COVID-19 and dengue. Associated Press

  • Siblings from left to right; Ender, 6, Gisell, 4, Diere, 9, Baker, 11, Ashley, 3, Watson, 12, pose for a photo near their home in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Their 36-year-old father Ender Rengifo told The Associated Press that his entire family had symptoms related to COVID 19 in April, and were given medicinal plants from the jungle to treat the virus due to the distance from healthcare centers and the cost of medicines.

    Siblings from left to right; Ender, 6, Gisell, 4, Diere, 9, Baker, 11, Ashley, 3, Watson, 12, pose for a photo near their home in Palestina, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. Their 36-year-old father Ender Rengifo told The Associated Press that his entire family had symptoms related to COVID 19 in April, and were given medicinal plants from the jungle to treat the virus due to the distance from healthcare centers and the cost of medicines. Associated Press

  • A rental pedal boat sits idle on the banks of the Yarinacocha Lagoon, in Peru's Ucayali region, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019.

    A rental pedal boat sits idle on the banks of the Yarinacocha Lagoon, in Peru's Ucayali region, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. Associated Press

  • Relatives mourn the death of Jessica Soria Gonzáles, a 50-year-old Shipibo Amazonian indigenous artist who died due to complications related to COVID-19, at a burial ceremony in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

    Relatives mourn the death of Jessica Soria Gonzáles, a 50-year-old Shipibo Amazonian indigenous artist who died due to complications related to COVID-19, at a burial ceremony in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Associated Press

  • A coffin containing the remains of Jessica Soria Gonzáles, a 50-year-old Shipibo Amazonian indigenous artist who died due to complications related to COVID-19, is lowered into a freshly dug grave at her graveside ceremony in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

    A coffin containing the remains of Jessica Soria Gonzáles, a 50-year-old Shipibo Amazonian indigenous artist who died due to complications related to COVID-19, is lowered into a freshly dug grave at her graveside ceremony in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020. Associated Press

  • A woman using a protective face mask amid the new cornavirus pandemic, stands next to the monument "El hombre Chacarero," that represents a rural worker, in Pucallpa, Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020.  The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, but this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019.

    A woman using a protective face mask amid the new cornavirus pandemic, stands next to the monument "El hombre Chacarero," that represents a rural worker, in Pucallpa, Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, but this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. Associated Press

  • A flock of vultures flock near a Peruvian national flag at the main port in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue.

    A flock of vultures flock near a Peruvian national flag at the main port in Pucallpa, in Peru's Ucayali region, Monday, Oct. 4, 2020. As Peru grapples with one the world's worst COVID-19 outbreaks, another epidemic is starting to raise alarm: Dengue. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 10/23/2020 10:30 AM

PUCALLPA, Peru -- Two of Lidia Choque's close family members had already gotten sick with the new coronavirus when the mosquitos arrived.

The 53-year-old woman lives in a wooden house near the airport of a Peruvian city in the Amazon rainforest. City fumigators usually visit several times during the rainy season to eliminate the pests, but this year, because of the pandemic, they were absent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

When she went to a hospital after coming down with a fever and body aches, doctors delivered a double diagnosis: COVID-19 and dengue.

'I couldn't even walk,' she said.

As Peru grapples with one the world's worst SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks, another virus is starting to raise alarm: dengue.

Health officials have reported over 35,000 cases this year, concentrated largely in the Amazon. The rise comes amid an overall dip in the number of new daily coronavirus infections, though authorities worry a second wave could strike as dengue cases rise.

In the city of Pucallpa, where Choque lives, doctors say they are already encountering patients with both illnesses. Two physicians said dengue symptoms like fever and muscle aches tend to dominate, though the combination with COVID-19 can prove deadly.

'There is more risk,' said Dr. Rosmery Rojas, a physician at a public hospital she said is seeing 120 dengue patients a day.

The Ucayali region located along a muddy river has long seen periodic dengue outbreaks, though Rojas and others said this year's figures are already three times that seen in 2019. Throughout the Americas, there were more than 3.1 million dengue cases last year, the highest number on record, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

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The Americas branch of the World Health Organization reports there has been an overall decrease in a dengue cases during the pandemic - with a little more than 2 million recorded so far this year, including 845 deaths. Nearly 1.4 million of those cases have been in Brazil.

It is unclear whether the reduction is related to COVID-19, though a spokeswoman said public health measures aimed at preventing the new virus may have played a role.

Nonetheless, in the Peruvian Amazon a mounting number of dengue patients are filling hospital beds that months before were overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Some, like Choque, are told they have both illness when they arrive at the hospital.

'Many people are arriving co-infected,' said Dr. Mariano Alarcón.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease also known as 'breakbone fever' for its severely painful symptoms. Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Indonesia have also dealt with dual dengue and virus outbreaks this year as lockdowns put prevention activities on hold.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Dengue is not usually fatal but severe cases can require hospitalization. Removing trash, old tires and other objects containing standing water can help curb the disease '" actions officials in Peru are now carrying out in hopes of quashing the uptick in dengue cases.

Choque said she went to the hospital after her symptoms didn't go away. A rapid virus antibody test - which can indicate a prior infection - came back negative, but a doctor saw spots on a chest X-ray that led her to diagnose COVID-19. The mother of three is still skeptical of whether she had the virus.

She stayed nearly two weeks in a ward with eight female dengue patients, riddled with anxiety over her condition.

'I felt desperate,' she said.

Looking back, Choque believes the absence of fumigation likely contributed to her coming down with dengue. She set up cans filled with lit charcoal and dried eucalyptus leaves to drive the mosquitos away, but she said they were still rampant when she fell sick.

'There's been more focus on COVID,' she said. 'They've neglected dengue.'

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