Bolivia has recorded 26 deaths from dengue fever this year, with the outbreak pushing the health service in the eastern Santa Cruz region to the brink of collapse, the government said on Wednesday.
“The cumulative number of dengue cases in Bolivia has reached 6,825… with 26 deaths,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Of those cases, 5,225 have been in Santa Cruz, the most populous region in the South American country.
The number of cases has risen sharply in Santa Cruz in recent days, ramping up pressure on hospitals.
“You want to check a hospital patient and another much more serious case arrives. We lack hands (staff), the 12 beds we have in the two rooms are full,” Milka Caceres, the emergency chief at the Mario Ortiz children’s hospital, told Red Uno television station.
“We have a critical situation,” added Caceres.
The alarm bells sounded at the beginning of this week when the parents of three babies aged between one and five months, reported they had died with dengue symptoms but that they had been unable to access the hospital due to a lack of space.
On Sunday, the government embarked on a massive fumigation program in the city of Santa Cruz, home to 1.9 million people, in a bid to tackle the rising cases.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease that can provoke a high fever, headache, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain.
In its worst cases it can be fatal.
In all of 2022, Bolivia registered 4,362 dengue cases and 10 deaths.