El Salvador issues alert against illness-bearing mosquitos

A sanitation worker fumigates against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in San Salvador, El Salvador on July 3, 2013 (AFP Photo/Jose Cabezas) (AFP/File)

San Salvador (AFP) - El Salvador on Monday issued a national alert against a mosquito that transmits tropical diseases, in an effort to contain human infection.

The country's civil protection agency called for preventive measures against bites from the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, across most of the country and for 47 towns and villages to be specifically checked.

The measure aims to curb the transmission of three viruses carried by the mosquito: dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

While usually not fatal, the diseases are characterized by fever, joint pain, headaches and rashes. In babies, Zika infections can cause underdeveloped brains.

El Salvador urged pregnant women to take special precautions against Zika infection, especially during their first three months, and to quickly seek prenatal tests in case of concern.

The Pan American Health Organization last week issued a statement on the "new threat" posed by the spread of the Zika virus through several Latin American countries, notably in Brazil.