QUITO, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- An outbreak of dengue fever in Ecuador this year has killed two people and infected 722 more, with six of them now in grave conditions, Health Minister Karina Vance said Thursday.
"Two people have died. The first was an 11-year-old child in Los Rios province, and we have confirmed in recent days the death of a man in Bahia city, in Manabi province," Vance told a press conference.
In the first four weeks of the year, a total of 722 cases have been confirmed in 18 of the country's 24 provinces, Vance said.
According to official figures, the cases reported in January represent a 1.4-percent increase over the same period a year ago, which saw 712 cases.
The coastal region is the hardest hit by the epidemic so far, with 52 percent of the total confirmed cases. The Amazonian region and the mountainous region followed with 28 percent and 10 percent respectively.
Dengue fever is spread by a tropical mosquito that reproduces in stagnant water, which is practically everywhere in Ecuador during the rainy season.
Ecuador's official figures show that dengue fever killed at least 20 people and infected more than 12,000 in 2012.