Dengue fever in Argentina has "gotten out of control" due to the "failure in prevention and control" of the disease, according to organizations that claim the true number of cases is around 20,000, not the 7,700 acknowledged by the government.
Authorities say that fumigations have been intensified to kill the mosquitos that carry the disease, which has killed at least three people in Argentina so far this year.
Health Minister Graciela Ocana denied that the government "is covering up the dengue problem" in the runup to the June legislative elections and said that "nobody can ignore what's happening, because the problem exists."
Ocana reported to Congress about the government's actions to deal with the situation that, she admitted, "is serious."
The minister said that since last year, various measures have been undertaken to prevent dengue "designed from the recommendations of the Pan American Health Organization."
"Control and prevention of dengue failed. The previous information on this epidemic was underestimated and the most serious question is what's going to happen next year," the director general of the Mundo Sano (Healthy World) group, Sonia Tarragona, said in remarks to Efe.
Meanwhile, Rolando Nunez, with the Nelson Mandela humanitarian organization, complained that in Chaco province, the most seriously affected in the country, "there was great chaos on the government's part in dealing with this disease."
"The intensification of the fumigations is the acknowledgement of the failure of the prevention and control of dengue, which just in Chaco has already caused four deaths," Nunez told Efe, adding that there had been more than 11,000 cases of dengue in that province.
The Fesprosa union representing health professionals continued with its national strike and marched to the Health Ministry headquarters, where its members denounced the existence of more than 20,000 people who are sick with dengue in the northern part of the country and called for the declaration of a national emergency.
"The professionals in the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy and Chaco affiliated with our union reported more than 20,000 cases, in total. Just in the Chaco city of Charata they're getting between 400 and 600 patients per day with dengue symptoms," Fesprosa chief Jorge Yabkowski told Efe.
Experts are confident that the situation will improve with the decline in temperatures predicted as winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere, but they warn that the epidemic could resurge next summer.
The disease has also shown up in Greater Buenos Aires, where more than 200 cases have been reported so far.