BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Health for Argentina's Buenos Aires province, the country's most populous area, issued a virus alert Tuesday on the emergence of chikungunya fever in South America.
The disease, which is transmitted similarly to dengue fever by mosquitoes and causes joint pains and a high fever, has been detected in neighboring Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Peru, after outbreaks in Central America and the Caribbean.
Buenos Aires Health Minister Alejandro Collia called on the province's residents to "not be panicked" and asked for their "collaboration" in avoiding the spread of mosquitoes, especially following heavy rains in recent weeks.
"It is important to be alert, because the symptoms can be similar to dengue," Luis Crovetto, the provincial director of Primary Healthcare, said.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as of Aug. 2, there have been 26 deaths in the continent from the virus, 5,724 confirmed cases and 406,586 suspected cases.
The great majority of suspected cases, 251,880, have been registered in the Dominican Republic, which reported the first case of chikungunya in February.