Updated 8:44 AM EDT, Wed, Aug 18, 2021

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Yellow Fever Outbreak in Brazil Prompts a State of Emergency


(Photo : Getty Images) Yellow fever is carried by the 'Aedes aegypti' mosquitoes.

A public health emergency was declared on Friday in the Minas Gerais State of southeastern Brazil following an outbreak of yellow fever, with at least 10 people alleged killed and around 100 cases reported.

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State authorities said they were investigating 133 suspected cases of yellow fever, of which 20 were considered probable, pending further testing. Authorities were also looking into reports of 38 deaths, with 10 of them suspected to have been caused by yellow fever.

According to state health authorities, the number of suspected yellow fever cases had more than doubled in recent days. At least 48 suspected cases had been reported as of Wednesday, with the figure rising to 110 yellow fever cases on Thursday.

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, and vomiting. A small number of the infected cases develop severe symptoms, and about half of them die within seven to ten days.

According to a spokeswoman of the Minais Gerais State Health Secretariat, all the reported cases so far were sylvatic, which means that the disease was passed by mosquitoes in the wild and in rural areas where monkeys are known to carry the deadly virus.

Small cases of yellow fever are occasionally reported when forest workers get infected and transmit the disease to local mosquitoes. However, those outbreaks are usually quelled by vaccinations campaigns or the onset of cold or windy weather.

Outbreaks can occur if yellow fever reaches cities infested by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Such outbreaks spread at such a fast rate that vaccination and mosquito-control teams find it nearly impossible to contain.

Dr. Jesse Alves, an infectious diseases specialist at the Emilio Ribas hospital in Sao Paulo, said that this is not the first time that such an outbreak has occurred.

"We know the virus has a cyclical behavior, and from time to time we see activity in areas of transmission," Alves noted.

The state has received 735,000 vaccines from Brazil's Ministry of Health.

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