THE OLD DISEASE IS AGAIN NEW
The beautiful coasts, untouched rain forests, hidden waterfalls, delicious cocktails on the beaches, amazing sunsets and Yellow Fever outbreak. Brazil, the incredible land of tourism and the target of deadly viral disease, which seems to be unleashed this time. According to some statistics, it has already killed 40 people in nine Brazilian states and the panic is getting worse because public health officers are sure this is the worst epidemics of Yellow Fever that hit this country, especially since 2003. The outbreak investigation in those 9 states out of 26 that Brazil has, will actually confirm the suspected cases of illness and add more black numbers to the current records.
How Yellow Fever became such a serious problem for Brazil, that is already fighting to stop Zika virus? What is happening there ? We all know that this virus is not a new to the Brazilian medical experts and that serial attacks of nature are occurring once in awhile but it seems that this time the situation is not simple and the ideas about it are different:“The outbreak roughly covers an area of western Minas Gerais that was hit by Brazil’s worst environmental disaster last year when a tailings dam collapsed at the Samarco iron ore mine co-owned by BHP Billiton and Vale SA, polluting the Rio Doce river and heavily impacting the local ecosystem.Health officials said at a news conference in Brasilia that there was no evidence linking the two events, but studies will be done to establish or rule out any connection to the disaster.”
The old problem of Brazil is how to deal with this viral disease in rural areas but for the first time this year, it occurred in urban area too. The Brazilian authorities invited people to get vaccinated and to reduce the levels of risk being exposed, infected and finally defeated by this virus that could be usually found in tropical and subtropical regions in South America and Africa. The virus comes to the people’s blood by bite of an infected Aedes and Haemagogus species mosquitoes.However, this virus is an RNA virus that belongs to the genus Flavivirus, family which gathers members like West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, and Japanese encephalitis viruses.The mosquitos have the central place in the chain of transmission because they circulate among infected and uninfected humans, feeding themselves. During the process of harvesting their food, they also deliver the virus from A to B. Based on the CDC research studies, there are three transmission cycles: jungle (sylvatic), intermediate (savannah), and urban:”The jungle (sylvatic) cycle involves transmission of the virus between non-human primates (e.g., monkeys) and mosquito species found in the forest canopy. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes from monkeys to humans when humans are visiting or working in the jungle.In Africa, an intermediate (savannah) cycle exists that involves transmission of virus from mosquitoes to humans living or working in jungle border areas. In this cycle, the virus can be transmitted from monkey to human or from human to human via mosquitoes.The urban cycle involves transmission of the virus between humans and urban mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti. The virus is usually brought to the urban setting by a viremic human who was infected in the jungle or savannah.” Depending on where is the targeted zone, there is a type of transmission and the level of virus activity.
The symptoms can be very mild and can be very dangerous and severe. Sometimes someone overcomes the virus without even being sick and sometimes someone dies because the immune system hasn’t been able to deal with the Yellow Fever virus aggression. The incubation period is from 3 to 6 days and it usually starts with fever, chills, headache, back pain, general aches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. The first stage could be stopped with the appropriate medical care and support so the second stage does not occur unless we are talking about 15% of cases which develop the next phase that means severe problems:high fever, bleeding, shock and failure of many organs. At the end, comes death like a salvation to the suffered patient.
The vaccine enables the lifelong protection to the majority of people who have been once vaccinated but the lifelong immunity is given to all who once have experienced the virus and successfully survived. This vaccine is often available to all who travel to the zones of risk for being infected by Yellow fever virus: travelers, scientists and people who work in the environment under the challenge of this illness. At this moment, CDC is warning the all people who travel to Brazil to be aware that the risk is almost everywhere except the coastal regions and the following cities:Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Recife, and Fortaleza. Everyone who is going to visit hot zones must be vaccinated: “All areas of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, and Tocantins.Other designated areas of the following states: Bahia, Paraná, Piauí, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and São Paulo. Vaccination is also recommended for travelers visiting Iguassu Falls.”
In spite of battle with the Yellow Fever, Brazil does not require the obligated confirmation about the vaccination against YF for the entrance into the country. It could be a sign that the goverment knows how to deal with the situation and radiates positive vibes regarding the outbreak but it could also be a sign of epidemic irresponsibility. Brazil is a country of tourism and enabling the tourists and visitors to come there without being protected, particularly when the state is facing up with the epidemics , sounds like a failure of public health common sense. There are also recommendations for visitors how to not get into the areas of risks but Brazilian countryside is very attractive and many young tourists won’t think much to not go there just because it is “some virus alert”. Then, will be the new cases of disease and those people will not have the right diagnosis on time so not the adequate medical response too. In absence of both, they could easily develop the severe type of Yellow Fever and be among negative reports.
This disease is endemic in Brazil but something very disturbing started in late 2016, when rare monkeys of Brazilian rain forests got infected and dying from this virus. About 400 howler monkey deaths are reported in the state,in the last 5-6 months. That is almost a catastrophe. Those animals are endangered by deforestation and unstoppable industrialization but the disease is additionally reducing their number with no mercy. The rain forests kept being tortured and destroyed by human colonization and the wild animals are being removed from the natural habitat to the one they have not been used on. They are now exposed to the new pathogens which are becoming the free road to the humans and other living beings That is so called forest fragmentation. Only 5% left from the famous rainforest Mata Atlantica and concern that its primate population will be wiped out by dangerous virus must be taken very serious. The virus is not the ordinary and known Yellow Fever virus but the mutated form:“Marco Almeida, a veterinary epidemiologist from Rio Grande do Sul state’s health agency, says the current outbreak is unlikely to be caused by a new, more virulent form of yellow fever virus, as it is known to mutate very slowly.”
What we are doing as human race to the Earth will never be forgiven. We are terrorizing this Planet and it is only the question when we will be all erased from it, like the story which has never reached the good end. The new microbes that come to our world are those what we have awaken by our greed for natural resources, demolishing of environment and attacking on blood of this beautiful blue planet. Now, it’s the time that we pay back, to change ourselves or to accept the final destination of being eradicated as the mankind. The Yellow Fever is just one warning more, among thousand others.
8 thoughts on “BRAZIL IN TORMENT:YELLOW FEVER OUTBREAK”
All the warning signs are there unfortunately.
Yet another fascinating article, Sarah !
What an interesting topic, and what a well-written article! It’s such a pleasure to read your articles! Thank you, Sarah !
As I was getting close to the end of your article, my mind was already thinking about the interference with the modus operandi of the ecosystem in that area! Soon enough, your closing argument came with your analysis and conclusion, both of which corroborated my thoughts !
I am in total agreement with you in that the human race has to learn to stop interfering with nature and the balance of the ecosystem! Every time humans tamper with any existing ecosystems, terrestrial may they be or aquatic, it leads to dire consequences!
This is remindful of your article, ALIEN MICROBES: SCIENCE FICTION OR SCIENCE REALITY? that you published on November 13, 2016. In it, you discussed, and I further commented on, the potential of inadvertently importing a virus from outer space to our planet.
It seems that “humans” have taken it upon themselves to self-destruct here on earth from within. In other words, they are achieving the cataclysmic effect without importing any viruses from outer space, be they on purpose or inadvertent!
One last comment is that human behavior is very well described by the song “In the year 2525. In the last part of the song, it says “In the year 9595
I’m kinda wonderin’ if man is gonna be alive
He’s taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain’t put back nothing
Now it’s been ten thousand years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, Now man’s reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it’s only yesterday” !
The arrogance of mankind is unequaled and, unless humans derail from the path of destruction, the end is nearing !
Thank you so much, Sarah, for your indefatigable work, and for shedding light on this very important topic, as it relates to deforestation.
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Sarah’s article is not only relative and invaluable but very well-researched and written: it is an honour and privilege to witness the evolution of Sarah’s scientific investigative journalism… In particular, this article about Yellow Fever needs to be exposed as much as possible (e.g. via social media), because it helps the layperson comprehend the possible dangers as a tourist or foreign worker in those Brazilian regions now affected by the virus; aside the locals requiring further public education on the issue.
Yellow Fever causes around 200,000 infections and 30,000 deaths every year; with nearly 90% of these occurring in African regions. Nearly a billion people live in an area of the world where the disease is common. It is common in tropical areas of South America and Africa, but not in Asia; although, globalization could change that. Since the 1980s, the number of cases of Yellow Fever has been increasing… This is believed to be due to fewer people being immune, more people living in cities, people moving frequently, and climate change.
A symptomatic treatment includes rehydration and pain relief with pharmaceuticals such as paracetamol (acetaminophen in The United States of America). Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) should not be given, because of its anticoagulant effect; which can be devastating in the case of internal bleeding that can occur with Yellow Fever.
In 2009, the largest mass vaccination against Yellow Fever began in West Africa; specifically, Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone. When it concluded in 2015, more than 12 million people had been vaccinated against the disease. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), a mass vaccination cannot eliminate Yellow Fever because of the vast number of infected mosquitoes in urban areas of the target countries. However, it can reduce the number of people infected. The WHO plans to continue the vaccination campaign in another five African countries (The Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria) and has stated that about 160 million people in Africa could be at risk, unless the WHO acquires additional funding to support widespread vaccinations.
Incidentally, Yellow Fever has been researched by several governments as a potential biological weapon. In May of 1955, over 300,000 Yellow Fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) were dropped over parts of the US-state of Georgia by the US-Air Force, to determine if the air-dropped mosquitoes could survive to take meals from humans. Operation Big Buzz was a series of US-military entomological warfare field tests conducted in Georgia in 1955. This was for the purpose of creating potential biological weapons that would be used against Cuban civilians in Cuba, during The Cold War (1945-91). The Cuban government blamed the US-government for a 1981 outbreak of Dengue Fever that sickened more than 300,000 civilians. Tensions between the two countries, coupled with confirmed US-military research into entomological warfare during the 1950s, made these charges seem not implausible. However, Dengue Fever does occur naturally in The Caribbean Islands.
Sarah’s article concludes with a conspicuous warning to humanity, and there needs to be immediate, unconditional and global co-operation on WHO programmes that combat such viral epidemics, etc. Her article should be read at the UN General Assembly by the WHO Director, Margaret Chan: in 2015, the Director stated that ‘demands on the WHO were more than ten times greater than ever experienced in the almost 70-year history of this organization. The world remains woefully ill-prepared to respond to outbreaks that are both severe and sustained.’
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