An influx in respiratory diseases including pneumonia and dengue fever have created a crisis situation in hospitals in El Salvador, report health authorities
"We've got our hospital network and neighborhood health clinics working at full capacity... with a huge increase these past few weeks in patients with respiratory ailments and possible dengue," Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza told reporters.
The official said acute respiratory disease has shot up in 11 of the country's 14 departments, totaling some 1.3 million cases since the start of the year, including 26,546 cases of pneumonia and 6,584 cases of dengue fever.
Espinoza said health authorities were investigating another 15,893 cases of suspected dengue across the densely populated Central American country, adding that one person has died from the disease so far this year.
He said El Salvador's 30 main hospitals and 300 clinics have enough medicine to attend the spike in respiratory ailments, but were badly understaffed.
Dengue fever symptoms include high temperatures and muscle aches. In extreme cases, hemorrhaging and death can follow.
There is no known vaccine, but scientists estimate to have one ready in about five years.
Global warming has allowed the mosquitoes, and hence dengue fever, to spread to areas where the disease had not previously been known.
Government health authorities together with rescue units and army troops are fumigating urban habitats of the dengue mosquito, and a public awareness campaign for the disease is under way in El Salvador.