American and Cuban specialists are investigating a denguelike disease that has killed 12 people and infected nearly 900 more in less than a week in a remote area of Nicaragua.
While the illness has the symptoms of hemorrhagic dengue, clinical tests for dengue have so far been proving negative.
The first cases showed up last week in Acuapa, 125 miles northwest of Managua, where six people died in rapid succession.
Health Minister Federico Munoz said Wednesday he has ordered the region cordoned off - infected people are not let out - to try to contain the illness, which also has been reported in eight other nearby towns.
Dr. Carlos Jarquin, Nicaragua’s director-general of health, said Wednesday that 12 people have died and 869 others are infected with the disease, which produces fever, fainting, bleeding from the nose and eyes and headaches.
He said a school in the area has been closed and converted to a temporary hospital. Medical aid has been flown in by helicopter because heavy rains have made roads to the region impassible.
“We still don’t know for sure that it’s not dengue, it has tested negative, but we have to get those tests repeated,” Dr. David Brandling-Bennett of the Pan-American Health Organization in Washington, D.C., told The Associated Press.
He said the outbreak could be a form of encephalitis or another hemorrhagic illness.
Nicaraguan health officials have confirmed only three cases of dengue in the region since May.