In rural Brazil, an outbreak of yellow fever that began in December is considered the largest in 14 years. Residents began shooting and beating monkeys to death after the deaths of 11 yellow fever patients in the small town of Ladainha.
The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources also said it has received reports of villagers killing monkeys due to fears of yellow fever.
“What’s happening is, people are killing howler monkeys because they’re afraid that they’re going to catch or their kids are going to catch disease from these monkeys,” said Paul Alan Garber, professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois.
Howler monkeys do not transmit yellow fever virus; it is transmitted through mosquitoes. In fact, the monkeys are highly sensitive to the disease, the most vulnerable of all the primates in Brazil.
“Striking or killing a monkey is an environmental crime,” noted the government agency, which receives complaints about mistreatment of wild animals, on its website.
Yellow fever is endemic in tropical areas of 47 countries in Africa and Central and South America, according to the World Health Organization. The main purpose of his latest campaign is to inform residents that the monkeys should be protected because they are major allies in the fight against yellow fever.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said yellow fever has not yet gotten to “the explosive urban phase.” Yellow fever can be spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits the Zika virus, but the current outbreak has been spread through Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes, he added.
“Someone who is probably a rural worker in the woods, in the forest, in the jungle gets bit by a mosquito that is infected with yellow fever but likely got it from a monkey,” Fauci said.