Bolivia's dengue fever epidemic, which has left at least 20 dead in recent weeks, is "unprecedented" and could affect neighboring countries, Health Minister Ramiro Tapia warned Saturday.
"This is an unprecedented epidemic," Tapia said on state television TVB, calling on the population to acknowledge the full and serious extent of the outbreak.
"Bolivians must be aware of the seriousness of the disease and all, national and local government, municipalities and individuals, must help fight the disease."
According to health officials, there have been 20 confirmed deaths and 88 confirmed cases of the deadly hemorrhagic variant of the disease, which causes violent internal bleeding and swift fluid loss, and can lead to a quick, painful death if not treated in time.
A total of 33,735 dengue cases have been counted, 70 percent of them in the eastern region of Santa Cruz. More than 15,000 troops have been mobilized to assist health teams.
Teresa Flores, coordinator of a private health network, said "this is a national epidemic and it is going outside of our borders, it affects neighboring countries."
Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Peru have reported cases of dengue fever originating in Bolivia, according to the newspaper La Razon.