On 15 January 2008, the national health authorities of Paraguay reported their first confirmed cases of Jungle Yellow Fever. More cases have been found since then and the people are afraid.
As well they should be.
The clinical manifestations of infection from the yellow fever virus can vary greatly, from asymptomatic or subclinical forms with non-specific symptoms, to hemorrhagic fever, which develops in 15-25% of infected patients and which presents a case fatality of around 50%, but which can go as high as 75%.
"We are in the middle of investigating outbreaks of yellow fever, and we are also intervening to destroy vectors in the towns where they have been detected, including spraying, fumigation and vaccination," said Health Minister, Oscar Martinez.
Though a vaccine has been available for the past 60 years, a vast majority of the population of Paraguay is not immunized.
Paraguay has requested neighboring countries 100.000 emergency vaccine doses, since an original shipment of 600.000 doses from Brazilian manufacturers has been delayed.
They're still waiting.
Paraguay declared this week an epidemics alert following the confirmation of five cases of the mosquito-borne viral yellow fever.
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.
One outbreak of the disease in neighboring Brazil was detected 200 kilometers north of Asunción the capital.
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.
The fires, by the way, are a symptom of global warming. Scientist have warned for years that as the earth heats up so will outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases.
Today demonstrators took to the streets of the capital and demanded to be vaccinated. They complained the government had been caught short of doses and demanded a major vaccination campaign against the mosquito-borne disease. Hundreds of people lined up this week at hospitals around Paraguay, demanding vaccines that were unavailable.
The cases of yellow fever were detected in Paraguay at a time when authorities were in the midst of a campaign to prevent dengue, which caused 17 deaths and infected 27,000 in last year's outbreak.
The following is from Canadian Press.
4,000 block highway in Paraguay to demand yellow fever vaccines
ASUNCION, Paraguay - Some 4,000 people demanding vaccinations against yellow fever blockaded a highway near the capital Wednesday, a week after the disease made its first appearance in Paraguay in 34 years.
The blockade snarled traffic for hours on a major route near Asuncion before authorities negotiated a peaceful end to the demonstration. There were no reports of violence.
Paraguayan health officials last week announced five confirmed cases of yellow fever that originated in a remote farm community, but no deaths.
The outbreak prompted South America's second-poorest country to urgently request 600,000 doses of vaccine from international health authorities.
Demonstrators demanded a major vaccination campaign against the mosquito-borne disease. Hundreds of people lined up this week at hospitals around Paraguay, demanding vaccines that were unavailable.
The last reported case of yellow fever in Paraguay was in 1974.