Brazil reports 70 confirmed yellow fever deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil has registered 70 confirmed deaths from yellow fever, according to a report released on Wednesday by the country’s Heath Ministry.

According to the ministry, a total of 215 cases of yellow fever were confirmed in the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Espirito Santo, all located in Brazil’s southeastern region.

The number of suspected cases stands at 1,060.

In addition to the 70 confirmed deaths, another 93 deaths are pending confirmation following test results.

Minas Gerais has the highest figures of fatalities from the disease, with 191 confirmed cases and 61 deaths, followed by Espirito Santo, with 20 cases and six deaths, and Sao Paulo, with four confirmed cases and three deaths.

The outbreak provoked a run on yellow fever vaccines, which Brazilians usually take only when travelling to regions or countries where vaccination is required, so shortages have been reported by some state-run clinics.

The numbers mark the largest outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil in decades.

The disease was previously confined to rural areas, and with only a few cases. Some are now saying this outbreak is related to a 2015 environmental disaster caused by the collapse of a mining operation’s tailings dam in Minas Gerais state, which unleashed a toxic river of mud.

The toxic mud polluted the Doce River, the main river in northern Minas Gerais, which runs to Espirito Santo state before reaching the Atlantic. Area wildlife has been decimated.

According to Marcia Chame, of Brazil’s renowned public healthcare think tank the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, the impact of the disaster could have led to an imbalance in the ecosystem which in turn led to the rise in yellow fever cases in urban areas. PNA/