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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Fever emergency in El Salvador
Flooded home in La Herradura, El Salvador
Flood victims are now threatened by fever
By Mike Lanchin in San Salvador

The government of El Salvador has declared a nation-wide state of emergency in response to a growing epidemic of dengue fever which has caused 19 deaths this year, the majority among young children.

President Francisco Flores said on Tuesday that the country's hospitals could no longer cope with the inflow of patients suffering from the mosquito-borne virus.

More than 2,000 people have now been infected with dengue fever and another 20 with a potentially fatal haemorrhaging strain.

Mr Flores called on the population to join in what he called a national mobilisation of citizens aimed at stemming the epidemic.

Extra resources had been allocated for the health services who were planning a new strategy to combat the disease.

Failed attempts

Back in July the government declared a red alert in five provinces where the disease was most prevalent.

Viejo River, 25 miles, 40 kilometers, southeast of San Salvador
Flood is increasing risk of disease

Officials believe that by fumigating affected zones, and warning the population of the dangers of infection, the epidemic would be slowly brought under control.

But since then the number of deaths has more than doubled.

The main children's hospital in the capital is now overrun with cases. Last week the hospital made a public plea for donations of mosquito nets to help protect patients in the emergency wards.

Doctors there say they are seriously overworked.

Just this week four more young children died of the haemorrhaging strain of dengue.

However, the authorities say that the population still has not taken the epidemic seriously and that people are not doing enough to eradicate the breeding grounds of the disease carrying mosquitoes in their own houses.

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See also:

07 Sep 00 | Americas
Flood emergency in El Salvador
10 Jun 99 | debt
Case study: Central America
08 Jul 00 | Americas
El Salvador backs US drug base
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