Death toll from dengue outbreak in Paraguay mounts

The death toll from growing dengue epidemic in Paraguay has increased to 22 as of this weekend, including an 8-year-old girl and a 21-year-old man, and nearly 4,000 people have been infected in total.

The epidemic is leading to overflowing hospitals, a large-scale fumigation effort and over 500 police officers involved in a clean-up effort of garbage heaps that could breed dengue-carrying mosquitoes, Fox News Latino reports.

Last week, Paraguay’s Congress declared the capital of Asunción and three other municipalities to be public health emergencies. Public hospitals are seeing as many as 400 patients a day, with most of them complaining of dengue-related symptoms, Fox News Latino reports. Most of the hospitals have canceled elective surgery and public officials are pushing to get the government to cover private hospital visits by dengue patients.

There is no vaccine for dengue, which is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause headaches, fevers, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain and nausea.  Dengue hemorrhagic fever can cause organ dysfunction and lead to death in some cases.

Seventeen people died of the dengue fever in Paraguay in 2007 and 15 deaths were reported in 2010. No dengue-related deaths were reported in 2008 and 2009. In some areas of the county, every household has at least one person infected with dengue, and in some homes, all inhabitants are infected, Fox News Latino reports.