Argentina halts import regulations for mosquito repellant amid dengue outbreak

Written on: April 8, 2024 by SprayTM

The Argentine government will temporarily halt regulations for foreign mosquito repellents in a bid to speed up imports and quell a shortage amid a historic dengue outbreak.

Dengue, also known as break-bone fever because of the intense muscular pain some sufferers experience, is a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. According to official figures, there have been 163,419 recorded cases in 2024, six times more infections than in the previous year, with 149 proving fatal. 

Over the last week, mosquito repellents have sold out in numerous supermarkets in the more affected areas, such as Buenos Aires City and Córdoba. Some retailers’ websites show that repellents are sold out nationwide. 

In response, the government announced that the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) will not analyze the efficacy or quality of imported mosquito repellent imports for 30 days (including aerosols, creams, sprays, and gels). ANMAT is the government’s agency that ensures drugs, food, and medical devices’ efficacy, safety, and quality.

The new exception will apply both to importing companies and individuals who wish to purchase repellents abroad.

The information was communicated through a WhatsApp channel administered by the presidential spokesman, Manuel Adorni.

Biochemist Rodrigo Quiroga warned that people who buy imported, unanalyzed repellents should check that they have “DEET, IR3535, or Icaridin” as active components. “If not, you are buying ugly perfume,” he posted on X.

Adorni has previously stated that the government is not planning to make a dengue vaccine available to the general public and cast doubts over its efficacy. The vaccine, produced by the Japanese laboratory Takeda, works against all the dengue serotypes and was approved by the previous administration in April 2023. The two shots required to get immunity cost AR$140,000 (US$166 at the official rate, US$133 at the MEP rate).

The government has also not launched any awareness campaigns, and Adorni has blamed the previous administration for the current outbreak due to a lack of preventive measures.

Health Minister Mario Russo has given sparse interviews and provided little information. On Thursday, when asked about when the imported repellents would be available, he said that “probably two weeks.”

When asked about recommendations to prevent dengue, Russo said: “Wear long sleeves, be careful with shorts, wear light-colored clothing.” 

When asked whether the minister would be dismissed, Adorni praised Russo by saying he has the full support of the President.”

“We consider that Mario Russo performs his duties as Minister of Health in an exquisite manner,” he said.

SOURCE: Buenos Aires Herald