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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 15:26 GMT
Dengue fever hits Rio carnival

An epidemic of dengue fever in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro is casting a shadow over this year's carnival, which takes place this weekend.

So far the outbreak has claimed seven lives, but thousands more people have gone down with the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes.

Carnival floats are being sprayed with insecticide and filming has had to be postponed on Brazil's most popular television soap opera because several actors have caught dengue.

The Rio authorities have drafted in more than 1,000 health workers and hundreds of soldiers from elsewhere in Brazil to take part in the anti-dengue campaign. Brazil's health ministry has blamed Rio's state government for the epidemic, saying funds provided for controlling infectious diseases have not been spent.

But Rio's state governor said the central grant was used up by a vaccination campaign for other illnesses.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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