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Press Release

Yellow Fever Vaccination Tops 1.27 Million in Paraguay

Washington, D.C., March 6, 2008 (PAHO)—The Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare (MSPBS) of Paraguay reports that more than 1.27 million people have been vaccinated against yellow fever in 18 departments, with coverage reaching 83 percent of the population in Asunción and 75 percent in the Central Department.

The number of confirmed cases of yellow fever has risen with 6 new cases and is now at 22 cases, including 6 deaths, according to Ministry figures, with 11 cases in San Pedro, 9 in Laurelty, and 2 in other areas. Another 12 suspected cases are being investigated.

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting in Port Iguazú, officials from Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru agreed to coordinate and monitor yellow fever immunization for the populations of border areas, with the support of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). They also agreed that the principal measure to prevent urbanization of the disease is reduction of breeding sites for aedes aegypti mosquitoes throughout the region.

In Paraguay, authorities have been working to reduce mosquito populations by fumigating in areas with higher risk of transmission, and to eliminate breeding sites for the mosquitoes, which can carry both yellow fever and dengue. Ministry officials are advising residents to cover water storage tanks, empty and upend any unused containers, and clean up any discarded plastic food containers, used automobile tires and other items that can collect small pools of rainwater where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Studies have found high infestation indexes in some areas, and people are being encouraged to collaborate in cleaning up their properties to reduce the risk of yellow fever and dengue transmission.

At the Port Iguazú meeting, participants agreed to collaborate on technical issues including laboratory diagnosis, surveillance, control, immunization, case confirmation, and related areas. They noted that information and communication are critical tools in controlling outbreaks, agreeing on the need for communications planning and clear, transparent and timely information.

The meeting, convened by the Ministry of Health of Argentina, was "a very important meeting because it opened discussions with chief experts from MERCOSUR and associated countries of all the policies needed to prevent another possible outbreak of yellow fever," noted the Minister of Health of Argentina, Graciela Ocaña.

Yellow fever, found in South America and Africa, occurs in jungle cycles where the virus spreads among monkeys and humans infected when bitten by mosquitoes with the yellow fever virus, and in urban cycles, where mosquitoes spread the disease from one infected person to another. Cases have been reported in Brazil and Argentina in addition to Paraguay.

The Pan American Health Organization is providing technical support to these countries through its country offices and headquarters.

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The Pan American Health Organization, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It serves as the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO).

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