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Argentina begins yellow fever vaccinations

  • Story Highlights
  • Disease outbreak has occurred in northern Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
  • The outbreak has killed at least 21 people
  • Health officials recommend that people planning to go to affected areas get vaccine
  • Concern began in Argentina last month after 17 monkeys died of yellow fever
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- Argentinians planning to travel to the northern part of the country, Brazil and Paraguay were lining up for vaccinations Tuesday, because of a yellow fever breakout that has killed at least 21 people in the region.


An Argentinian man receives a vaccination in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Public health officials recommend that anyone planning to travel to an affected area get the vaccine -- which is effective for a decade -- 10 days before arriving.

Concern in Argentina began last month, when health authorities reported finding 17 dead monkeys in Pinalito Park, in the San Pedro Department of Misiones Province.

Tests showed they had died of yellow fever.

But the Ministry of Health's Dr. Hugo Fernandez pointed out that the last documented case of yellow fever among people in Argentina was in 1841.

"What we have had until now is death in monkeys from the transmission of the virus," he said.

"That put us on alert, and we have put in place all the necessary controls since January of this year." Video Watch residents line up for the vaccines »

The Ministry of Health recommended that residents and travelers to the "high-alert" area in northern Argentina, near the borders of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, also receive the vaccine.

On Monday, Paraguay's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare confirmed 16 cases, eight of them fatal, in two areas in the center of the country -- San Pedro Department and Central Department.

Brazil had tallied 13 deaths, the country's Ministry of Health said.

As of Saturday, more than half of the 2 million vaccine doses obtained by Paraguay from the World Health Organization had been administered, the government said.

A team from the WHO's Pan American Health Organization has been working in the country since February 15.

Some Paraguayans 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 last week. "We don't need speeches here. We need vaccines."

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. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Carolina Cayazzo and Sanie Lopez Garelli contributed to this story

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