The Paraguayan health authorities on Tuesday declared a state of emergency after an Asuncion hospital confirmed the nation's first death for more than a century from yellow fever: a liver and kidney disease spread by mosquitoes.
According to news reaching here, the dead man was a 24-year-oldfrom central Paraguayan department San Pedro who died in Asuncion's Clinic as Hospital from renal and liver failure.
Adolfo Galeano, an epidemiologist and the hospitals director, said the young man had fallen ill after hunting for monkeys with a group of friends.
"What we suspected is now proven," Galeano told a Tuesday press conference, adding that the hospital had studied a biopsy and performed an autopsy to confirm the result.
He said that the body was also caring for 22-year-old Carlos Leiva in its intensive care unit suffering from critical liver failure and complications, after surgeons removed one of his kidneys.
Leiva had been admitted by his relatives. He comes from the village of Calle 8000, which is seven kilometers from San Estanislao, the capital of San Pedro.
Carmen Serrano, Paraguay's representative to the Pan-American Health Organization, said the outbreak of yellow fever was due to monkeys moving to the edge of cities after forest destruction. Forest fires recently destroyed thousands of hectares of crops and forest in San Pedro.
During the same press conference, the nation's Health Minister, Oscar Martinez, said that there were five confirmed yellow fever cases in the nation.
"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," Martinez said.
Authorities had already declared a state of emergency last week after confirming two deaths from dengue fever in the northeast of the country, close to the border with Brazil, and more than 300 suspected cases across the nation.
Gualberto Pinanez, head of the Ministry's sanitary vigilance department, said that the yellow fever remains endemic in the Amazon and that the Ministry would continue fighting the mosquito that spreads the disease.
"We are about to take on a great deal of work. The situation is very serious and merits the support of all the population to prevent an epidemic," he said, adding that like hemorrhagic dengue fever, yellow fever kills 75 percent of those who are seriously affected.
The last yellow fever death in Paraguay was in 1904 and the last confirmed cases of infection were in 1974.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2008)