Updated: 3:04 p.m. ET Nov. 8, 2005
KHARTOUM - Sudan is battling an epidemic of dengue fever, which has claimed 71 lives so far and is straining the war-ravaged nation's tattered health system, a government official said on Tuesday.
Muntasir Mohamed Osman, a senior health ministry official, said there were 299 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease in the affected South Kordofan region in central Sudan.
Most of the cases which were arriving at hospitals in the rural and mountainous area were at a terminal stage, leading to an unusually high death rate of almost 25 percent.
"There is no vaccine or cure for dengue," he told Reuters. "We can treat the symptoms only."
Dengue fever afflicts victims mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and sub-tropical areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East, Caribbean and Central and South America, Australia and the Pacific.
Symptoms of the disease — which affects tens of millions of people each year — include high fever, vomiting and aching joints.
Osman said the government was spraying insecticides to kill off the mosquito and prevent the epidemic from spreading.
South Kordofan is one of the areas which was gripped by a brutal civil war which raged for all but 11 years since Sudan's independence from Britain in 1956.
Healthcare systems are very basic, with only limited access for the region's rural population.
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