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Published Date: 2017-03-09 05:11:02
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Undiagnosed disease - Colombia: (CE) fatal, RFI
Archive Number: 20170309.4888805

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sun 5 Mar 2017
Source: Caracol Radio [in Spanish, trans. Mod.TY, edited]

A medical mission is attending to the health emergency in the communities in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

The commission, composed of a medical team of the Secretariat of Health of Cesar [department], representatives of indigenous organizations, and authorities of the Kogui ethnic group, as well as those from the EPS Dusakawi [this is a special public entity that provides health services to the Kogui, Yukpa and Wiwa ethnic groups], will travel this Sun 5 Mar 2017 with the help of the army to the Zinkaka, Tusimake and Bunkuana settlements located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where a health emergency is registered that has left 9 indigenous people dead this past week.

According to a report issued by the EPS Dusakawi, there is an outbreak of an unknown illness that develops in 6-8 days with 4 fatal cases of children less than one year of age and 5 cases in adults between 25-65 years of age.

The secretary of health, Carmen Sofía Daza Orozco, indicated that they became aware of the situation from the Gonawindua Tayrona organization's information about their findings in the communities previously mentioned; afterward, contact was made with the EPS Dusakawi that has this area within its jurisdiction, and she moved a team to the area in order to verify and deal with the situation.

According to the report delivered by Dusakawi to the Secretariat of Health, the situation involves an unknown disease that progressed in 6-8 days, and the fatal cases are in children less than one year old, and 5 cases in the population between 25-65 years.

The coordinator of epidemiological surveillance of the Secretariat, Maria Teresa Garces, confirmed that according to the testimonies of the Kogui ethnic group, the indigenous individuals who died presented with symptoms such as fever, headache, cough and chills, so that the deaths may have been associated with an acute respiratory infection.

The logistics for the commission that will leave this Sunday [5 Mar 2017] from the Buena Vista Battalion in Distracción, La Guajira, was coordinated by the Gonawindua Tayrona organization, which requested help from the army that made available a medical mission helicopter in order to attend to the emergency in the shortest time possible. The team that will go to the Sierra Nevada is composed of an epidemiologist from Dusakawi, a public health laboratory bacteriologist from Cesar [department] who will take samples from the indigenous people who are found to be ill, 2 Kogui indigenous authorities, and a delegate from Gonawindúa Tayrona.

It is important to note that the Kogui ethnic people, due to their ancestral customs, do not permit transport or handling of their corpses, so the health commission that will travel there follows a protocol accompanied by the ethnic authorities and the municipal group of José de Los Santos Sauna Limaco.

communicated by:
ProMED-mail from HealthMap Alerts

[Speculation about the etiology of these cases is difficult because of the limited and general symptoms mentioned as well as the lack of laboratory test results. The acute respiratory symptoms and rapid progression to death is compatible with hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome (HPS), but a HPS cluster occurring in a short interval of time would be unusual.

ProMED-mail would appreciate receiving any additional information that becomes available, especially results of laboratory tests.

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map showing the location of Colombia can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/4954, and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta at http://en-us.topographic-map.com/places/Sierra-Nevada-de-Santa-Marta-National-Park-2807659/. - Mod.TY

A HealthMap/ProMED-mail map can be accessed at: http://healthmap.org/promed/p/16.]


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