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Brazilian Gang Holds Medical Staff Hostage To Vaccinate Poor Neighborhood Against Yellow Fever

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A Brazilian drug gang pulled off an act of kindness in one of Rio de Janeiro's poorest neighborhoods. The gang kidnapped two nurses from the Itauna vaccination post, taking as many syringes and vaccines doses as they could carry. They preceded to take them to the Salgueiro, one of Rio de Janeiro's poorest favelas.

The gang forced the nurses to vaccinate all the inhabitants of the neighborhood against yellow fever.

Robin Hood Act

The leader of the drug gang, Thomaz Vieira Gomes, along with his gang kidnapped two male nurses on Jan. 27. The two nurses were taken to Salgueiro so that the people from the neighborhood would be able to be vaccinated. For two hours, gang members supervised the nurses while they administered yellow fever vaccines.

After the vaccines were given to the people, members of the gang took the nurses back to the vaccination outpost. Both workers reported that the gang members were not aggressive with them when they kidnapped them to give the vaccines.

Gomes and his gang were said to have carried out this radical approach because there were many people in the neighborhood who were not able to visit the vaccination outposts.

Gomes is known on 2N. He is wanted in Brazil, authorities have a $3,000 for any information on his whereabouts. Former Brazilian Minister of Environment Carlos Minc praised Gomes for being able to get the neighborhood vaccinated but also pointed it out that this was due to a broken healthcare system.

Yellow Fever Outbreak

Brazil is currently going through a yellow fever outbreak since the beginning of 2017. Government officials said that the outbreak was stopped in Sep. 2017. Outbreaks began in areas close to Sao Paulo.

About 53 people have died in Brazil since July 1, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Health. More than half of the deaths occurred at the beginning of January.

Yellow fever is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms begin three to six days after being bitten, it lasts about three to four days. It can seem like the flu at first but then may develop jaundice, fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. Yellow fever gets its name from people becoming jaundiced or yellowish in color.

Brazil has been affected by limited supplies of the yellow fever vaccine. In order to extend the supply, the government had to give one-fifth the standard dose. There are still large numbers of people that haven't been vaccinated against the disease.

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