Brazilian Yellow Jack Attack: The Naked Mayor Quacks

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The coast and the monkey jungle zone: Sylvatic YF risk, 2005. Key: green=endemic; red=transitional; yellow=potential; blue=unaffected. The bulk of the population lives in the blue zone. Since 2005, Minas (MG) has emerged as a zone of endemic risk. Source: Brazilian federal health ministry.

We need a communications policy and an ongoing dialogue with the mass media that will guarantee that the sense of risk is proportionate to the actual risk. –Rio de Janeiro mayor Cesar Maia, December 2006, from the “ex-blog”

Lula should be IMPEACHED for criminal association with a narco-guerrilla group, the FARC! Just look! El Tiempo reports that Brazil is offering to let Chávez and FARC negotiators meet on Brazilian soil! –Rio de Janeiro mayor Cesar Maia, September 20, 2007, op. cit.

The great yellow fever panic of 2008 continues here in Brazil.

See also

We watched the press conference last evening with the minister of health on the issue, which aired on government TV, NBR — one of the local C-SPAN equivalents which is most interesting for the spotlight it sheds, when covering press conferences, on how the native journalism corps comports itself.

The best coverage I think I have read on the issue so far was the story in the Estado de S. Paulo today, headlined “Government tries to rein in run on yellow fever vaccine.”

Among other virtues, the coverage tries to focus more clearly what the government flacks arguably did not make sufficiently clear: Who should seek vaccination, and what are the risk areas?

It also interviews the wife of the Spaniard who died recently from the disease. She complains that neither government informed them properly on how to identify risk areas when traveling to rural Brazil. In general, the Estadão coverage has the public-minded virtue of assessing the weakness of the government’s PR and correcting for it.

The most astonishing thing, however, is watching the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Cesar “The Naked” Maia, cheerfully spreading misinformation on his “ex-blog” daily political newsletter today.

This in the middle of a rant in which he takes up the chorus of those accusing the health minister of minimizing the real risk of epidemic bloody death from black vomit and massive liver failure.

Most notably, Maia faults the health minister for failing to mention the following (nonexistent) fact:

He writes:

Por exemplo. Um caso contraído em Anápolis que chegou ao Rio exigiu vacina em seus familiares, nos vizinhos e no entorno. Por quê? Claro, pelos riscos de contaminação.

For example. A case contracted in Anápolis who came to Rio required vaccination of his family members, neighbors, and the general neighborhood. Why? Because of the risks of contamination, obviously …

Bullshit. The ” contamination” evoked here is a phantom menace.

You cannot get the disease from other persons.

You get it from mosquito bites in the areas where infected mosquitos live.

He continues:

O mapa distribuído pelos técnicos do MS mostra áreas de risco e de transição que indiferenciam, pelas razões acima, áreas silvestres de urbanas. O problema não é da origem da febre amarela, mas como se transmite.


The ministry actually distributed several maps. This is, for example, shows the “hot zones” where monkey die-offs are currently triggering closer monitoring. Goiás, where the Federal District is located, is the area of most concern, obviously.

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A picture is worth a thousand words: Unnatural monkey die-offs that triggered monkey autopsies this year and last. Green: animal epidemics recorded; blue: animal epidemics confirmed by laboratory; red: animal epidemics and cases of sylvatic YF; brown: cases of sylvatic YF. How did São Paulo, Bahia and Santa Catarina get on the
O Globo list if they have registered no monkey plagues? Source: Brazilian Ministry of Health Technical Note, January 11, 2008.


O mapa distribuído pelos técnicos do MS mostra áreas de risco e de transição que indiferenciam, pelas razões acima, áreas silvestres de urbanas. O problema não é da origem da febre amarela, mas como se transmite.


Consult: The WHO Report on Global Surveillance of Epidemic-prone Infectious Diseases | Yellow fever

The health minister made a point last evening of slapping the press for gabbling, politicized scandalmongering, and in no uncertain terms.

“I read the headline that yellow fever has returned,” he said. “That is a lie.”

The Naked Mayor seems to be a good example of what we are talking about.

The Naked Mayor seems to be one of those gibbering idiots who will cast doubt on the Second Law of Thermodynamics if he find its politically inconvenient.

On the other hand, the WHO does talk about an “intermediary” type of yellow fever, where urbanization and wilderness start bumping up against one another.

One journalist at the press conference asked a vague question about this, but did not pose it very clearly, I thought.

Where farm areas are contiguous with wilderness (monkey-infested jungles) areas, is there a different kind of risk? I am still not clear on how WHO defines this so-called “transitional” mechanism.

The bad thing would be if the urban YF mosquito — Aedes egyptii — started carrying the virus again. How might that happen, and how might the risk be minimized?

More soon. Gotta run off to a doctor’s appointment (not related to horrible, deadly tropical diseases of any kind.)

I would ask Mayor Quimby to assess my medical condition, but Mayor Quimby is not really qualified to have an opinion.


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