Image: Adriana Amarilla and Cynthia Figueredo
Jorge Saenz  /  AP
Nurse Adriana Amarilla, right, talks to 18-year-old patient Cynthia Figueredo, who is recovering from dengue fever in Asuncion, Paraguay.
updated 3/1/2007 9:19:20 PM ET 2007-03-02T02:19:20

Paraguay has declared a state of emergency following a wave of dengue fever cases as concerns over the mosquito-borne illness rise across Latin America.

Paraguayan health officials have reported some 14,000 cases of the disease this year, with four deaths.

President Nicanor Duarte said he was allotting funds to fumigate breeding areas for the disease-spreading aedes aegypti mosquito, and signed a decree this week declaring a 60-day emergency.

4 dead from severe form
Authorities have reported four deaths from 40 cases of the more severe hemorrhagic form of dengue, which causes a sudden fever, rash, easy bruising, aches, weakness, restlessness and possible bleeding of the gums and internal bleeding.

They say the rest of the cases are classic dengue — sometimes known as bonebreak fever — which often includes symptoms such as high fever, intense headaches, and joint and muscle pain.

Health Minister Oscar Martinez said officials were sending blood samples to the United States and Argentina to determine what types of dengue are involved in the outbreak.

Concerns about the illness are also rising across Latin America.

In Peru, officials said two people died last month from dengue and some 398 cases have been reported.

In Brazil, preliminary data shows 53,146 dengue cases have been registered this year after about 300,000 last year.

Mexico reported 22,810 dengue cases in 2006, up from 17,487 in 2005.

Many cases may go unreported
Opposition lawmakers accused the government of drastically underestimating the outbreak.

“The statistics that are being given out should be multiplied tenfold,” opposition spokesman Anibal Carrillo said Thursday, adding he believes more than 130,000 cases have gone unreported because many poor Paraguayans cannot afford doctors’ fees.

The opposition has called for Martinez to resign, saying he failed to take measures to prevent the outbreak. Martinez did not comment on that.

The epidemic has infected 13 players and a first-division coach in the Paraguayan soccer league who are believed to be at risk because they train outdoors, where it is harder to block mosquitoes.

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