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Yellow fever outbreak kills 7 in Paraguay

  • Story Highlights
  • W.H.O., nearby nations, rush vaccines to Paraguay after yellow fever outbreak
  • Illness, which causes fever, muscle pain, headaches, has killed 7 so far
  • Protests amid claims that politicians have been given vaccines in their homes
  • Outbreak, first in 34 years, comes two months before scheduled elections
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From CNN's Sanie Lopez Garelli
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ASUNCION, Paraguay (CNN) -- The World Health Organization plans to send 2 million vaccines to Paraguay by Sunday after yellow fever emerged there for the first time in 34 years.

Anxiety has gripped the South American nation of 7 million since authorities confirmed the first cases of yellow fever there last month. The disease has killed seven people and prompted the government to declare a three-month state of emergency.

The government's health ministry is scrambling to find doses for a massive vaccination campaign. Nearby Brazil already has sent 1 million vaccines.

The World Health Organization's shipment of 2 million doses is scheduled to arrive on Saturday or Sunday, according to a report Friday in the Paraguay's national news agency, Jakueke.

Protesters have closed roads and started fires amid news reports that health workers were vaccinating certain politicians in their homes.

"I categorically reject these kinds of irresponsible allegations," said Health Minister Oscar Martinez Doldan.

Meanwhile, some people have endured long waits for vaccines in sweltering heat.

"Citizens pay taxes for our health and education, but there are no vaccines here," Cynthia Shaerer, told CNN. "We don't need speeches here. We need vaccines."

"I want the president to tell me," another said. "If we are going to die, who is responsible?"

People contract yellow fever from the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease causes fever, muscle pain, headaches, shivering, nausea and vomiting, the World Health Organization says.

Most people improve after three or four days, but some enter a second "toxic" phase that causes fever, jaundice and blood in the vomit, the health organization says. About half of the people who enter the second phase of yellow fever die within 10 days.

There is no treatment, so medical authorities recommend vaccinations.

Yellow fever typically is found in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America.

Most of the seven deaths in Paraguay happened in the town of San Lorenzo, about 12 miles (20 km) from the capital city of Asuncion.

The public-health crisis comes two months before scheduled elections in Paraguay. Some analysts say it presents a delicate situation for the ruling Colorado Party, which has held power for 60 years. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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