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Health alert in Paraguay following outbreak of dengue

Wednesday, January 30th 2008 - 20:00 UTC
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A health alert has been declared in Paraguay in a bid to stop a new outbreak of dengue fever. Health workers have detected some 150 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease so far this year. The virus disease seems on its way to becoming endemic in the heart of South Amererica.

A senior Paraguayan official said there was concern because neighboring Brazil had also seen a recent rise in dengue and some dozen cases of yellow fever in tropical areas. Last year, at least 17 people died from dengue fever in Paraguay and the authorities were criticized for not acting sooner. "Dengue is defeated in the streets. We can fight the mosquitoes, chiefly by getting rid of stagnant pools of water" said Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte as the health alert was declared. His government was accused of missing warning signs in January a year ago and failing to tackle the disease properly. A total of some 27,000 cases were registered during 2007. The Paraguayan Health Minister, Oscar Martinez, said the latest suspected cases were being analyzed. "We have 11 confirmed cases after the initial tests, and so we will wait a fortnight to carry out a second test to confirm whether it is dengue" Paraguayan Health Minister Oscar Martinez was quoted talking about the latest outbreak. Officials say their concern is that people who were infected last year might be more susceptible to more serious forms of the disease. "We're asking people to support us and help us get rid of places where mosquitoes can breed" said Martinez. Dengue is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes and is seldom deadly but has potentially lethal variants such as hemorrhagic dengue. Symptoms of the disease include severe headaches, fever, rash and joint pains. Medical experience indicates that there is a much greater risk of the hemorrhagic strain or dengue shock syndrome when a person has immunity to other types of dengue virus as a result of previous infection. According to the World Health Organization the disease is common in tropical areas and has extended to virtually all of Central and South America and the Caribbean. It is also found in Africa, South East Asia, China, Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Australia.

Categories: Health & Science, Paraguay.

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