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By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The number of confirmed cases of yellow fever in Minas Gerais rose to 109, according to an epidemiological bulletin released earlier this week by the State Health Department.

Yellow Fever vaccinations, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Brazil News
Vaccination is the main measure to contain the Yellow Fever disease outbreak, photo by Divulgação/Prefeitura Municipal de Vitória.

The total number of confirmed yellow fever deaths in Minas Gerais is forty. One of the victims was probably infected in the northern municipality of Januária, but was diagnosed and died in the Federal District.

The state reported 712 reports of suspected yellow fever in 51 counties. In addition to the 109 confirmed cases, 19 cases were discarded while others are still under analysis. Seventy deaths that may have been caused by yellow fever are also being investigated.

So far there have been no confirmed cases reported in Rio de Janeiro, but Dr. Pedro Junqueira who practices internal medicine in the city told The Rio Times, “We have to recognize [yellow fever] is not part of most doctors daily cases in Rio de Janeiro, where most people are not immunized – either through vaccination or previous contact.”

He adds, “Unexpected urban outbreaks have been seen before in other Latin American cities. Therefore, I feel the medical community should really be concerned about a possible yellow fever outbreak in Rio very soon and start a task force in order to minimize the transmission and improve the early recognition and treatment of patients.”

São Paulo and Espírito Santo also have yellow fever deaths, with three cases and one case, respectively. This is already the largest outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil since 1980, when the Ministry of Health began to provide data from the historical series. Until now, the year with the most serious outbreak was 2000, with 85 confirmed cases and forty deaths.

Government news sources report that so far, 3.33 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed throughout the state of Minas Gerais and 1.55 million people have been vaccinated, most in the counties affected by the outbreak. In these cities, the hours of operation of the health units for vaccination were expanded and includes weekends.

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