Brazil steps up yellow fever vaccination campaign in face of worst outbreak in decades

Brazil has ramped up an emergency yellow fever vaccination campaign as the worst outbreak in decades spread out to major population centres, killing dozens of people and decimating wild monkey populations.

The development came only a year following the Zika virus – another mosquito-borne disease was declared a global health emergency, and as during the previous epidemic Brazilian authorities continued to struggle to mount an appropriate response.

The health ministry by way of precaution had expanded production of vaccines and administered 3.3 million doses in Minas Gerais, where the outbreak was concentrated.

It had so far been spread by Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes in rural areas.

Monkeys too had suffered and over 400 were found dead in Espírito Santo after farmers reported an unusual silence in the forest. According to biologists, endangered species, such as the muriqui, could be wiped out as the vaccination only worked on humans.

According to Pedro Tauil, an epidemiologist at the University of Brasília, the latest spread of yellow fever was different from the past, both in terms of the number of cases and the range.

Meanwhile, authorities said yesterday that 90 per cent of people living in the areas most affected by a yellow fever outbreak in Brazil had now been vaccinated.

Much of Brazil was considered at risk for yellow fever, and people in those areas were supposed to be vaccinated as part of their routine care. However,  the areas at the heart of this year's outbreak had a vaccination rate of just 48 per cent when it began, said Marcio Garcia, the coordinator for surveillance and emergency response at the health ministry.