January 5, 2009

Yellow fever kills South American monkeys

A half-dozen monkeys apparently died of yellow fever in Argentina, but health officials say a major outbreak of the disease among humans is unlikely.

However, the discovery of the dead simians by local sanitation authorities in Corrientes province, near Argentina's northeastern borders with Brazil and Paraguay, follows the confirmed yellow fever deaths of two jungle workers in neighboring Misiones province, Mercopress reported Monday.

Corrientes province sanitation officials said there is no risk of another yellow fever epidemic because 95 percent of the exposed population has been inoculated against viral disease, also called also called yellow jack, black vomit or American plague.

The sixth dead monkey was found during the weekend in the Garruchos jungle area.

The animal was too highly decomposed so we were not able to take samples for testing, said Marcelo Jimenez, head of the Sanitary Zone.

We're visiting home by home in Garruchos, San Carlos and Colonia Liebig areas, where last week five dead monkeys were found, but they were also too decomposed for samples, Jimenez said.

Argentine authorities are considering the monkeys as positive given their high vulnerability to the mosquito-borne disease.

Ten Argentines contracted yellow fever last year with two deaths officially attributed to it. Eight deaths were reported in Paraguay and 19 in Brazil during a similar period.