Red alert in Peru amid dengue outbreak7th February 2011
Peru's health ministry has alerted the country to a fast-spreading outbreak of dengue fever, with a possible 16,000 cases across the country.
Four fresh cases were recently confirmed in the capital city of Lima.
The four patients are believed to have contracted the mosquito-borne disease while on a trip to the city of Iquitos, deep in the Peruvian jungle.
The country's health minister, Oscar Ugarte, said government officials estimated that there may be a further 10,000 suspected cases of dengue across the country.
To date, 6,000 cases of dengue have been confirmed in the course of the outbreak.
In the Iquitos area, 11 patients have died of the disease.
The Lima patients are in isolation wards in hospitals in the city.
Health officials are stepping up health education campaigns to try to prevent further spread of the disease.
However, Ugarte said it was not necessary to declare a national emergency, as Loreto department, which administers Iquitos, had enough resources to address the outbreak, including a special fund for fighting infectious diseases.
As well as Iquitos, cases have been reported along the rivers Huallaga, Ucayali and Marañon.
Ugarte said the government was now focusing on preventing the spread of dengue to Pucallpa and Tarapoto cities, which lie to the south of Iquitos, and in the northern part of the country.
Dengue describes a range of mosquito-borne viruses. Outbreaks tend to cluster in the hot summers, which in Peru run from January to March.
Hitting people with low levels of immunity the hardest, the disease has similar symptoms to a bout of influenza, including headaches and severe joint pains.
However, the Peruvian strain has been reported to have different symptoms, unlike dengue haemorrhagic fever, and results in sharp abdominal pain, but with no high fever.
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Title: Red alert in Peru amid dengue outbreak
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 17459
Date Added: 7th Feb 2011