LONDON, Nov. 5 (UPI) — At least 1,000 members of a remote tribe in the Amazon region in Venezuela have been infected with H1N1 flu and seven have died, Survival International says.
The group, an advocate for indigenous peoples around the world, said the presence of the H1N1 influenza virus in the area where the Yanomani live has been confirmed by the World Health Organization. The Venezuelan government has sealed off the area.
About 32,000 Yanomani are believed to live along the border between Venezuela and Brazil in the Amazon rain forest. Because of their isolation, they have little resistance to infectious disease.
Thousands of Yanomani died in the 1980s and 1990s when gold miners brought diseases like influenza and malaria into the region, Survival International said.
Steven Corry, the organization’s director, called the situation “critical.”
“Both governments must take immediate action to halt the epidemic and radically improve the healthcare to the Yanomani,” he said. “If they do not, we could once more see hundreds of Yanomani dying of treatable diseases. This would be utterly devastating for this isolated tribe, whose population has only just recovered from the epidemics which decimated their population 20 years ago.”
Copyright 2009 by United Press International