Doctors in Venezuela Fear Risk of Deadly Outbreak


Persistent break-ins at the Institute of Tropical Diseases, which have resulted in stolen animals inoculated with parasites and bacteria as well as missing data about possible virus hot spots and other vital records, are raising concern among experts of a real possibility of a lethal epidemic outbreak. (Humberto Duarte Special to the Miami Herald;

Thieves stole medicine, computers, printers, microscopes, air conditioners and other laboratory equipment from the Institute of Tropical Diseases in Caracas. They also stole laboratory animals inoculated with parasites and bacteria. Institute officials are concerned people might get ill if they consume the animals or sell them on the market.  The institute’s computers containing national information about possible virus hot spots, infected patient databases and other records were stolen too. The break-ins exemplify the desperate measures some Venezuelans are turning to in a country with widespread lack of food, medicine and basic supplies, and are devastating to Venezuelan doctors, researchers and scientists trying to prevent disease outbreak in the troubled country.

Health officials face another challenge of disseminating information to prevent disease outbreak, as government officials do not release public health figures. Malaria and cholera outbreaks are increasingly a concern as many Venezuelans use rivers as water sources.

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