In rural Brazil, an outbreak of yellow fever that began in December is considered the largest in 14 years.
The fear of Yellow fever brings monkeys’ closer to Oblivion in Brazil, experts say
With fears of the deadly viral hemorrhagic disease spreading to urban areas, another worry is plaguing scientists and primatologists: the killing of monkeys.
Residents began shooting and beating monkeys to death after the deaths of 11 yellow fever patients in the small town of Ladainha, reported the new site Globo.com. One farmer in a rural village in the state of Minas said she believes that people are killing the monkeys, because she heard gunshots and then noticed fewer primates in the area.
The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources also said it has received reports of villagers killing monkeys due to fears of yellow fever, according to Globo.com.
Roberto Alves, manager of the Vectorially Transmitted Illnesses Technical Vigilance Unit at Brazil’s Health Ministry, is tracking the outbreak and explained that the death of a primate is an event of mandatory notification to health services. Notifications sometimes come from environmental protection workers or from the community itself, concerned that the monkey has passed on the virus to its members.
“Since we only discover the circumstances of death after the fact, we sometimes discover that some primates didn’t have natural deaths but violent ones,” Alves said. “This information does not represent the total, but it’s a sample of what happens in some regions.”
“What’s happening is, people are killing howler monkeys because they’re afraid that they’re going to catch or their kids are going to catch disease from these monkeys,” said Paul Alan Garber, professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois and executive editor of the American Journal of Primatology.
Howler monkeys do not transmit yellow fever virus; it is transmitted through mosquitoes. In fact, the monkeys are highly sensitive to the disease, the most vulnerable of all the primates in Brazil.
“In areas where there is yellow fever, howler monkeys are dying from yellow fever at an alarming rate,” Garber said.