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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Yellow fever threats South America

At least 13 people died in Brazil and seven other in Paraguay as yellow fever spreads across rural areas in South America. Governments of Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay are taking measures to avoid the disease cross their borders from already infected neighbour nations.

On Thursday, thousands of people in Paraguay have been queuing for vaccines against yellow fever, after the first outbreak of the disease in 30 years. The government declared a state of emergency last week and aid began to arrive from Venezuela and Argentina.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) other seven cases of jungle yellow fever have been confirmed in Paraguay while four other people in the country may have also been infected in a recent outbreak. The seven confirmed cases occurred in the San Pedro region, while the four suspected cases were discovered in the town of Lorenzo, near Paraguay's capital of Asuncion, the UN agency said in a statement.

According to specialists, the disease is controlled in Brazil and has been isolated to rural jungle areas in some specific States of the country. However, the situation has turned out of control in Paraguay, where authorities confirmed shortage of vaccines and thousands are crossing the border with Argentina to be treated there.

Near Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, denounces about political use of the vaccines flood media outlets and tribunals. In April, Paraguayans are requested to vote for a new President and apparently politicians are making use of the distribution of vaccines in exchange for support in the vote.

In Luque, a suburb of the capital Asuncion and an area considered high-risk, hundreds of protesters tried to hammer down the door of a health centre, the Reuters news agency reported. In Villa Elisa, another city close to Asuncion, residents blocked a highway and burned tires.

Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Illness ranges in severity from an influenza-like syndrome to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever. Health workers have given 160,000 vaccines in recent days, but officials say they need to administer many more.

Another health alert was declared in Paraguay last month amid a suspected outbreak of also deadly dengue fever.

The disease was first detected in Brazil and then reached Paraguay. Monkeys are reported to have been infected in northern Argentina. It is the first time in 30 years that this disease threats the region.

Hernan Etchaleco