Brazil’s yellow fever outbreak now has infected 120 people. It is the worst epidemic ever registered in the country. In 1993, the disease affected 83 people.
The number of individuals infected, however, could be ever bigger. Health authorities investigate 623 suspected cases. According to the Ministry of Health, confirmation exams can take from 24 hours to a month. “We don’t know how big the problem is,” Artur Timerman, President of the Brazilian Society for Dengue and Arboviruses, told Estadão.
The bulk of cases is in Minas Gerais, where authorities confirmed 109 cases. Of those, 58 have died. The total number of deaths in the country has reached 64.
São Paulo’s Health Department has confirmed three deaths in the state. Authorities are investigating other 17 cases.
So far, all cases are of forest yellow fever infections. There is no evidence of an urban outbreak – when the disease is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same that transmits dengue and the Zika virus.
The last urban yellow fever outbreak in Brazil was in 1942.
Between 2015 and 2016, Brazil experienced the now-infamous Zika virus outbreak. The diseased infected an estimated 214,193 individuals and resulted in the births of 2,366 babies with congenital problems. Now, another mosquito-transmitted disease is giving the world anxiety: yellow fever. While Brazil’s yellow fever outbreak remains a problem concentrated in the state of Minas Gerais, World Health Organization officials are concerned that the problem is at risk for becoming an epidemic.
According to a Tuesday report, there are 184 suspected cases, with 53 deaths. This is the worst outbreak in 75 years. The state government of Minas Gerais has declared a “state of emergency” and asked for federal help. The WHO is monitoring the situation, since the disease has affected a region with low rates of vaccination.
So far, Brazil’s Ministry of Health has sent 1.5 million vaccines to the area. Minas Gerais, however, has requested an additional 2 million doses.
While the majority of infected people will have only a mild illness, characterized by body aches, fever, and chills, 15 percent of patients will grapple with more severe symptoms. These include a high fever, bleeding, and multiple organ failures. Among those patients, the mortality rate can reach 50 percent.