The death toll from the worst-ever dengue fever epidemic in Brazil's state of Rio de Janeiro has reached 123 so far this year, with more than 162,500 other people infected but surviving, authorities said.
Nearly half the fatalities were children under the age of 16, and most cases occurred in the city of Rio de Janeiro, the state's health secretariat said as it released the statistics late Wednesday.
Thirteen people died of the mosquito-borne tropical disease in the past week, and another 116 suspected cases were being investigated, it said.
The number of people struck down by the illness this year is approaching three times the 66,553 cases recorded for all of 2007.
The dengue death toll is the worst ever recorded in Rio de Janeiro, surpassing the 92 fatalities seen in 2002, and public hospitals are overflowing with patients and parents fearing their children might be infected.
Soldiers have been called in to exterminate possible mosquito colonies.
Dengue fever symptoms include high temperatures and muscle aches. In extreme cases, hemorrhage and death can follow. No vaccine is currently available.