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Epidemic hits Amazonian indigenous group

An epidemic, suspected to be malaria, has struck down dozens of people of the Yanomami tribe in the Venezuelan Amazon, reports the Associated Press. Leaders of the three impacted village told health workers that approximately 50 people have died so far, many of them children.



“The number could be lower, but in any case it’s an important, alarming number,” Dr. Carlos Botto, a regional health official told the AP.



While malaria is common in the region, such an outbreak is rare. Christina Haverkamp, head of the indigenous-rights organization, Yanomami-Hlife, told the AP that the epidemic may be connected to illegal gold-mining, suggesting that miners have possibly brought the disease to the area. According to Survival International, 1,000 gold miners are currently illegally mining in Yanomami territory.



Recent studies have shown that deforestation in the Amazon has increased the likelihood of contracting malaria, since loss of forests has created optimal conditions for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.










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