RIO DE JANEIRO – The death toll from yellow fever in Brazil’s second-largest state, Minas Gerais, and the one most affected by the disease, now stands at 15 among 22 confirmed cases, according to a report released Wednesday by the regional health secretariat.
The number of fatalities from the virus in Minas Gerais to date is more than double the seven listed there in the bulletin released on Tuesday by the Health Ministry, which acknowledged 20 deaths among 35 confirmed cases nationwide from July 2017 through Jan. 14, 2018, with another 11 dead in Sao Paulo and one each in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia.
Minas Gerais was also the state hardest hit by the yellow fever outbreak in southeastern Brazil in late 2016 and early 2017, which ultimately killed 262 people among 779 verified cases.
According to the Minas Gerais Health Secretariat, between July 2016 and June 2017 475 cases of yellow fever were confirmed there, with 162 fatalities, although the last case was registered on June 9, 2017.
The disease reappeared in the state, however, in late 2017 and in recent weeks 22 cases have been confirmed with 15 deaths, while 46 suspected cases are still under investigation.
The secretariat said that none of the victims was vaccinated, adding that 82 percent of the population in Minas Gerais has already been vaccinated against yellow fever, meaning however that some 3.5 million people are still not immunized.
Thousands of Brazilians are currently standing in long lines to be vaccinated in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but the Health Ministry is not speaking about a new outbreak and says that there is enough vaccine to immunize the entire population.
Authorities say that the new yellow fever cases registered since last July are the “wild” kind transmitted by species of the Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes, which live in forested areas.
The “urban” form of the disease – of which there have been no registered cases in Brazil since 1942 – is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also the vector for dengue, Zika and Chikugunya.