Outbreak of Yellow Fever Drives Brazil Into a State of Emergency
The southeastern Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has declared a public health emergency due to an outbreak of yellow fever. The state of emergency will continue to be in place for the following six months.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is often transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. The disease exists in two phases. The first phase consists of fever, headache, muscle pain, shivers, loss of appetite, and vomiting or nausea.The second phase, which affects approximately 15% of individuals with yellow fever, is characterized by high fever, jaundice, bleeding, and degenerating functions of the kidney.
Approximately half of individuals who enter the second phase usually die within 10 to 14 days. There have been 20 reported deaths due to yellow fever in Brazil since mid July of 2017 and yellow fever has already reached 94 out of the 853 cities in Minas Gerais.
In response to this outbreak, a mass vaccination program has been put into place in the south of Brazil, which encompasses the two most populated cities in Brazil: Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Long lines are being formed outside of clinics in both cities, prompting fear that vaccines could run out.
Antonio Nardi, an official of Brazil’s Health Ministry, reassured the public that the government has “sufficient vaccines to vaccinate the entire Brazilian population if necessary.”
Similarly, individuals in Argentina are creating long lines outside of clinics, waiting to be vaccinated due to the geographical proximity from the outbreak and the upcoming Carnival celebrations.
Carnival, celebrated in February, draws multitudes of tourists into Brazil, particularly Rio de Janeiro, to celebrate the tradition with vibrant floats, samba music and an exciting nightlife. Nardi has expressed his relief that the greatest exposure to yellow fever occurs in the rainforest, not in the cities where the Carnival celebrations take place.
The World Health Organization recommends all travelers who plan to visit areas of Brazil in which the outbreak has spread to, namely the southeastern region, to receive a yellow fever vaccine at least 10 days before travelling.
According to the International Health Regulations, “a single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease.”
It is only through education of the disease, extreme caution, and vaccination that Brazilians will be able to control this outbreak.