Friday, November 2, 2018

Venezuela’s Health Crisis Is Crossing the Border

Stephen Ferry
Desperate refugees spread malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, dengue and tuberculosis to neighboring countries as health-care system implodes
Contagion from Venezuela’s economic meltdown is starting to spread to neighboring countries—not financially, but literally, in the form of potentially deadly diseases carried among millions of refugees.
The collapse of Venezuela’s health system has turned what was once Latin America’s richest nation into an incubator for malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, dengue and tuberculosis, as well as the virus that causes AIDS, medical officials in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela told The Wall Street Journal.
Photo: Bruno Kelly for The WSJ
The diseases, many of which had been considered all but eradicated, are now cropping up beyond Venezuela’s borders—including in this Amazon city 600 miles away.
Earlier this year, Elainy Portela watched with alarm as measles reappeared with a vengeance. Telltale red rashes covered six children near her home in Manaus, just off the highway used by Venezuelans escaping misery at home.
The highly contagious airborne disease was declared vanquished here 18 years ago. In March, the city had four possible cases. But by early October, there were nearly 1,000 people with measles here and about 2,000 total for this state, Amazonas, and in neighboring Roraima, all having originated with infected Venezuelans who crossed into Brazil, the Health Ministry said. Twelve people have died.
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