It was something that the already-overwhelmed Rio de Janeiro healthcare system didn’t need: authorities have confirmed two cases of yellow fever transmitted within the state. Two men contracted the disease and one of them died.
Furthermore, five monkeys were found dead in the city of Rio – also killed by the virus, according to a health institute. State authorities, however, have not yet confirmed this.
The fatal patient had gone to the hospital several times. He received two different diagnoses: one said that his problem was a sinus infection, whereas the other said it was a viral infection.
Until now, Rio de Janeiro remained the only Southeastern state to not register yellow fever cases. Since January, Brazil has recorded more than 400 cases of the disease.
The state of Rio has announced a plan to vaccinate over 12 million people until the end of the year. But the decision comes late, two months after the beginning of a yellow fever outbreak in neighboring states.
It is paramount that the government promotes a well-rounded information campaign to avoid collective hysteria.
Biologists point out that the yellow fever outbreak may have a link with the 2015 Mariana tragedy. The collapse of an iron rod residue dam spilled the equivalent of 21,000 Olympic-sized pools of mud. It destroyed entire towns and resulted in 19 deaths. It also devastated the Rio Doce. Thousands of animals died, and assuming the government takes all possible actions, it will take over a decade to reverse the damage. It was the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.
“Such events can completely alter an ecosystem, making animals more susceptible to infections,” said biologist Márcia Chame to the newspaper Estado de Minas. Besides cases of human infections, health authorities have registered cases of monkeys that have died from yellow fever.