Brazil: 90 pct of most at-risk for yellow fever vaccinated
Ninety percent of people living in the areas most affected by a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil have been vaccinated, authorities said Thursday.
Much of Brazil is considered at risk for yellow fever, and people in those areas are supposed to be vaccinated as part of their routine care. But the areas at the heart of this year's outbreak had a vaccination rate of just 48 percent when it began, according to Marcio Garcia, the coordinator for surveillance and emergency response at the Health Ministry.
The rate in those areas in now at 90 percent after a massive vaccination campaign, he told reporters at a news conference.
So far in the Southern Hemisphere's summer rainy season, the Health Ministry has confirmed 149 cases of the mosquito-borne disease. Of those, 52 died. Hundreds of other cases are being investigated in the largest outbreak in Brazil since 2000.
The Health Ministry has sent 8.2 million extra vaccine doses to the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, the epicenter of the outbreak, and four other states considered at risk. While Minas Gerais has seen the vast majority of the cases, two other states have confirmed cases and others are investigating cases.
There is no known treatment for yellow fever, and vaccination campaigns are considered crucial to containing outbreaks.
But Garcia warned Brazilians not to seek vaccines unnecessarily.
"A person who isn't at risk today, who asks (for a vaccine) at a health center, will end up taking away the opportunity from someone who is really recommended for vaccination," he said.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, muscle pain, and nausea; some patients also experience abdominal pain, kidney problems and the jaundice from which the disease gets its name.
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