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Venezuelan official: malaria death toll at 17

Venezuelan official: malaria death toll at 17

A government health official said a team of specialists believe 17 Yanomami Indians have died in a malaria outbreak in the past three months _ a toll considerably lower than initially reported by indigenous health workers.
The team of health specialists visited three remote Yanomami villages in the Amazon rain forest and confirmed in interviews with villagers that 17 people, including children, died in apparent malaria cases in the past three months, Amazonas state regional health director Dr. Miguel Hernandez said Tuesday night.
Two indigenous health workers who visited the area said last week that village chiefs told them about 50 people had died recently.
But Hernandez said in a telephone interview that a thorough study confirmed the lower toll. He said one of the victims had died during the doctors' five-day visit late last month.
Anti-malaria medication was given to most of the more than 150 people in the three villages, and officials confirmed 60 people had malaria out of 91 patients who were treated for illnesses ranging from diarrhea to respiratory infections, Hernandez said in a statement.
He said a follow-up visit by helicopter is planned this month and that in the coming days health officials will also travel to other remote areas to check on additional communities.
The Yanomami Indians, one of the largest isolated indigenous groups in the Amazon, have regularly suffered from malaria, and precise information about outbreaks has often proven difficult to confirm in their remote communities.
The Yanomami health workers Andres Blanco and Shatiwe Luis Ahiwei, who initially reported the higher death toll, could not immediately be reached for comment.


Updated : 2021-07-25 21:08 GMT+08:00