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A worker fumigates against mosquitoes in Penuelas, Puerto Rico, following a spike in cases of dengue fever (OSV News photo/Ricardo Ortiz, Reuters)

An archbishop in Puerto Rico has issued a pastoral letter asking Catholics on the island to cooperate with civil officials in efforts to combat an outbreak of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, and to care for those who have fallen ill. Source: The Tablet.

“The evangelical experience reminds us of the importance and responsibility of caring for our health and that of our families,” Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez OFM of San Juan wrote in the letter. “The principle of solidarity calls us to be responsible for the well-being of our neighbour,”

Calling on his flock to be “Samaritans in action”, the archbishop wrote: “I ask you to welcome this letter as an urgent invitation to pastoral action, to preserve our lives and those of our neighbour, to be instruments of everyone’s right to health, and to make our parishes Christian communities where the Gospel is lived out.”

Eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes is one of the most urgent tasks, but is made difficult by the almost daily rain showers that come to the island on Atlantic Ocean trade winds. 

Archbishop Gonzalez called for special attention to the poor and most vulnerable.

The Department of Health said that 795 cases had been reported as of April 18, with 478 people requiring hospitalisation. The disease can cause high fever, rashes and severe muscle and joint pain.


Be ‘Samaritans in action’ to stop fever, bishop tells Puerto Ricans (The Tablet)