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The 2009 Bolivian dengue fever epidemic is an epidemic of the lethal dengue fever which has struck the South American country of Boliviamarker in early 2009, escalating into a national emergency by February. The BBC describes it as the worst outbreak of dengue fever in the country's history. 18 people have thus far been killed and 31,000 have been infected by the mosquito-transmitted arbovirus.

On 20 February, the Pan American Health Organization reported that eighty (80) cases of the more severe dengue hemorrhagic fever had occurred in Bolivia since January, of which 22% were fatal. Bolivia has requested outside assistance and foreign aid.


Bolivia first declared a national emergency in early February 2009, when it alerted the world about the country's worst outbreak of dengue fever in twenty-two years. By 3 February, five people had been killed in the east of the country and over 7,000 more were infected. Worst hit is the Santa Cruz Departmentmarker, near the Paraguayanmarker border and the Amazon. A number of military facilities, particularly in the city of Santa Cruzmarker, have been turned into temporary hospitals as the real hospitals struggle to cope with the conditions. Thousands of soldiers have been enlisted to assist medical workers. Since then, the government has allocated funds to supply hospitals across the country; however, it has been criticised in some quarters for the slowness of its actions. The infection is most widespread in the tropical eastern lowlands, where conditions have led to a thriving mosquito population. Bolivia's healthcare services are said to be having difficulty in coping with the outbreak, with experts from Venezuelamarker, Cubamarker, Paraguaymarker and the World Health Organisation being called in to assist.

Foreign aid

Mosquito transmission

Mosquitoes thrive in the high temperatures and humidity of the Bolivian lowlands and it is this region which sees the highest numbers of infected civilians. There is currently no vaccine for dengue fever. Those infected experience flu-like symptoms such as severe headaches, fevers and joint pain. The infected are advised by medical experts to drink lots of fluids and obtain significant rest. Dengue fever sufferers have an approximate 1% chance of progressing to the more severe dengue hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms for such a progression include hypothermia, vomiting, severe abdominal pain and confusion. The global average case-fatality ratio for dengue hemorrhagic fever is 5%.

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