Uruguay's health authorities on Sunday confirmed the country's first case of domestically caught dengue fever, caught by a 30-year-old man living in Salto, a city 500 km from the capital of Montevideo.
Jorge Basso, director of the national Health Service, told reporters that definitive results are still four to five days away, but the patient had been admitted to a Salto clinic and protected with mosquito nets to prevent a wider outbreak of dengue, which is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Uruguay will now apply Phase One of its plan to fight dengue, an epidemic that has killed 20 and is affecting neighboring Brazil and Argentina, and nearby Paraguay and Bolivia.
Beginning early Monday, the authorities will fumigate Salto, a city with a populatin of 100,000 people on the banks of the Uruguay River, which marks the border with Argentina.
The authorities are also studying two other patients who may have the disease and are under observation in Montevideo clinics.
Dengue is a viral infection carried by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which breeds in still water. Its symptoms include high fever, nausea, rashes, backache and headaches.
Most mainstream dengue cases are not fatal, but the hemorrhagic variant, which causes severe internal bleeding as blood vessels collapse, can kill up to 20 percent of its victims.
The mosquito that transmits dengue had been eliminated from Uruguay in 1958, but reappeared in 1997, as part of a spread across South America that began in the 1980s.