ECCMID19: Vaccine-preventable diseases on the rise in Venezuela

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Vaccine-preventable diseases – including measles and diphtheria – have surged in crisis-hit Venezuela, according to research presented at the 29th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID; 13–16 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

The country’s socioeconomic and political crisis has led to a collapse in Venezuela’s health system, with many in the population living in extreme poverty and an exodus of individuals towards neighboring countries.

The report provides data taken from June 2017 – October 2018, however, the authors identified that since October 2014 there has been a severe shortage of official epidemiological information in Venezuela, therefore this study was based on published and unpublished data including sources such as PAHO, Ministries of Health and the Venezuelan Health Observatory.

In Venezuela measles had not been reported since 2007, and diphtheria since 1992; however, both diseases have re-emerged after progressive interruption of the national immunization program, with transmission now present in most of the country.

The team highlight that vulnerable indigenous populations are most affected, with at least 100 cases and several deaths in a small population of 15,000 Yanomami living at the Venezuelan-Brazilian border.

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