Thirty-five people have died this year in Paraguay after contracting dengue fever, as the country battles an epidemic that has affected almost 70,000 so far this year. Yesterday alone 1,915 new cases were suspected as the government tries to counteract the tropical disease caused by mosquitos.
The Paraguayan Ministry of Health has so far recorded 42,068 confirmed cases this year and the figure looks set to rise. The worst affected area, accounting for 71% of all cases, is the territory of Asunción, Paraguay’s capital and surrounding areas.
The ministry has asked those who have symptoms of dengue not to travel next week during the Easter holidays to avoid the further spread of the virus. The heavy rainfall in much of Latin America is compounding the problem, making it harder to eliminate breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, transmitter of the disease.
Last November, 200 troops from the Paraguayan army attempted to destroy large swathes of the mosquito population by spraying breeding sites in the capital and surrounding areas. Yesterday military forces sprayed large areas of districts Itá Pyta Punta, San Antonio and Rodríguez de Francia.
Health authorities have attributed the escalating mortality rate of the disease to the fact that “four serotypes of the virus now exist, making it harder to treat.” Symptoms include high fever, headache, vomiting and skin rash. If left untreated, death can occur.