Paraguay declared this week an epidemics alert following the confirmation of five cases of the mosquito-borne viral yellow fever. All medical staff must immediately report to the Epidemics Vigilance Department in the capital Asuncion any suspected case of the disease.
"Given the expansion risks involved we're taking all the necessary steps and it has been decided that all febrile cases must be reported to sanitary authorities", said Antonio Barros Public Health Deputy minister. Concern in Paraguay has been growing since Brazil reported several fatal cases of yellow fever in the last two months, including one in an urban area for the first time since 1942. All yellow fever cases in Brazil so far had been reported in tropical and to much lesser extent in rural areas. One outbreak of the disease in neighboring Brazil was detected 200 kilometers north of Asunción the capital. The Paraguayan Ministry of Public Health is also looking into the death of a young man, but the laboratory so far has not confirmed it as yellow fever. Paraguay has requested neighboring countries 100.000 emergency vaccine doses, since an original shipment of 600.000 doses from Brazilian manufacturers has been delayed. However the Brazilian government has promised 100.000 doses from its own emergency stockpile. Yellow fever is transmitted to human via infected mosquitoes mainly in tropical regions of Africa and South America. Illness ranges in severity from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms of severe infection include fever, chills, headache and vomiting. Potential liver failure causes jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes - hence, the name. Mortality rate for severe version of the illness ranges from 15% to more than 50% The urban strain of yellow fever is transmitted by the same mosquito responsible for dengue, an epidemics that reportedly infected 28.000 people and killed 17 in Paraguay since the beginning of last year. Experts believe that the outbreak can be tracked to fires last year which destroyed thousands of hectares of rain forest forcing the migration of monkeys and mosquitoes that could be responsible for taking the jungle yellow fever to rural and urban areas.