Yellow Fever Outbreak That Threatened Brazil’s Megacities Ends


A girl received a vaccine against yellow fever in Rio de Janeiro in March. After a fivefold rise in suspected cases of the disease in January, the peak of the outbreak, there were no new cases in July.

Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

An alarming outbreak of yellow fever that threatened Brazil early this year appears to be over, according to data released this week by the Pan American Health Organization.

There were no new cases reported in Brazil in the last month, said officials of the agency, a regional branch of the World Health Organization. Of the neighboring countries to which the outbreak had spread, only Bolivia reported a case.

Concerns were first raised in January, when Brazil reported 712 suspected cases — a fivefold increase over normal levels. Most were in Minas Gerais, a rural state. About 40 of the state’s residents died, and the governor declared a state of emergency.

Over the next few months, the outbreak spread, even reaching the states that are home to the megacities Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Some panicked residents reacted by killing monkeys, mistakenly blaming them for the spread.

The government distributed 20 million doses of yellow fever vaccine, including more than 3 million from the W.H.O. emergency stockpile.

In retrospect, reports show that total cases peaked in January, midsummer in the Southern Hemisphere, then fell substantially by March and nearly disappeared by June.

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