Honduras closed 2019 with more than 115,000 cases of dengue and 177 deaths from the disease, the worst in Latin America.
"It is the biggest epidemic that we have had," said Deputy Minister of Health Roberto Cosenza. He added that more than 20,000 people were diagnosed with severe dengue fever.
The viral disease has rapidly spread in recent years and is transmitted mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infections.
More than 400 people died last year as one of the worst dengue epidemics on record swept through Central America — a type of outbreak that some scientists and public health officials are warning is likely to become more frequent and more widespread because of climate change.
But while climate change is threatening to increase the spread of dengue worldwide by expanding the range of the mosquitoes that carry the virus, the disease has already found an especially fertile breeding ground in Honduras, for reasons that go beyond the environment.
In Honduras, which accounted for more than 40 percent of the dengue deaths in Central America this year, according to the Pan American Health Organization, the effects of climate change have been compounded by government dysfunction, political tumult and public apathy.
Honduras’s notorious criminality has worsened matters, too, as public health teams, already stretched thin by budget cuts and a lack of trained personnel, have been blocked by gangs from entering some of the most severely afflicted neighbourhoods to educate residents and fumigate against mosquito infestations.