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Paraguay Declares State of Emergency After Dengue Outbreak
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The Paraguayan government on Wednesday declared a 60-day state of emergency due to a major dengue outbreak, which has killed 10 people and infected 15,000 others since the beginning of this year.


Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte signed a decree declaring a health and environmental emergency, said Aristides Gonzalez, the head of the country's national emergency secretariat, according to news from Asuncion.


He said he would meet cabinet members and prepare an action plan to raise money to curb the epidemic. A large part of the money would be allocated to brigades dispatched to eliminate stagnant ponds where the dengue-carrying Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeds.


On Tuesday, health authorities said they were on alert due to evidence of a more virulent strain of the disease.


Gonzalez said there were plenty of beds, medicines and doctors in state hospitals, and most of the dead died in private facilities.


A medical committee conducted autopsies on those who died of the disease, discovering evidence of so-called "gastric dengue," a variant of the disease that had not been seen in Paraguay before.


Gastric dengue, which is different from hemorrhagic dengue, killed six of the 10 victims by attacking the liver, heart, lungs and brain.


Dengue is caused by four closely-related viruses and is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which breeds in still water. Its symptoms include high fever, nausea, rashes, backache and headaches.   


(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2007)


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