Scientists and Brazil’s government disagree about whether the isolated Amazon tribespeople who came down with flu after making contact with the outside world last month received adequate medical treatment. At least one scientist fears that the illness is just the start of a health catastrophe for the tribe and blames the government for not taking fuller precautions before the tribespeople slipped back into the forest.
According to new details disclosed by a senior official in Brazil’s Indian affairs department (FUNAI), the seven newly contacted tribespeople told an interpreter that they left their homeland after coming under fire by non-Indians possessing guns. They first exhibited flu symptoms on 30 June, 3 days after their first meeting with government officials in the Brazilian village of Simpatia. The group then vanished into the forest for 4 days.
When they eventually reappeared in Simpatia on 4 July, a government medical team administered flu immunizations. Officials then took the sick tribespeople to a remote frontier post and gave them 6 days of medical treatment. Finally, on 11 July, they returned to their remote forest home, a village that may house as many as 100 individuals.