Courtesy Survival/J. Mazower
Ibore Picanerai healthy on the day she was forced out of the forest in 1998 (left), and suffering from a TB-like illness in 2003 (right). She died in 2009.

Death From the Outside: Uncontacted Community in Danger Due to Disease

Rick Kearns
4/29/14

Recently contacted indigenous people in Paraguay are dying from a mysterious epidemic, according to Survival International (SI), and their suffering follows an old and dangerous pattern.

“Members of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe in Paraguay are rapidly succumbing to a TB-like illness which goes undetected in medical examinations,” SI said in a press release on World Health Day, April 7.

“The Indians are being forced out of their forest as cattle ranchers burn and clear the land.”

Most of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode have already been forced out of the forest and they have suffered from various respiratory illnesses ever since. This recent illness could wipe out the remaining people from the tribe according to SI, noting that the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode, like other uncontacted peoples, have no immunity to outsider diseases.

In a prior SI interview, Medical Researcher Dr. Stafford Lightman explained how the spread of these diseases become lethal to a whole community of uncontacted people.

“Any infectious disease carried by visitors to these areas is potentially lethal,” Dr. Lightman explained.

“When an alien pathogen arrives in a small isolated group, even if only one person is infected, they will be looked after by their friends and family group who will also all be infected and rapidly pass the infection around the whole tribe. It will take very little time for almost every member of the group to be infected.

“One of the effects of an infection overwhelming a whole community, is that very few people will be spared and since it hits a whole community at the same time, no-one will be able to hunt or collect food and even if they do, there will be no-one to prepare it,” he continued.

“Consequently as well as being ill, the individuals will have no-one to look after them or feed them, with major effects on the ability of the group to continue to survive without outside help.”

For SI and other advocates, that outside help means the Paraguayan Government stepping in and preventing the further destruction of the Gran Chaco, a vast dry forest that extends over parts of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. (A 2013 University of Maryland report found that the Paraguayan section of the Gran Chaco is experiencing the fastest rate of deforestation in the world.)

SI Director Stephen Corry noted that, as outsider diseases have killed millions of Native people throughout the Western Hemisphere, this recent illness is doing the same thing to the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode.

“This tragedy is no surprise,” Corry asserted.

“When uncontacted peoples are forced into contact with outside society, disease swiftly follows. Here is proof that forced contact is nothing more than a death sentence for tribal peoples. Yet the government is doing nothing to protect the lives of these Ayoreo’s uncontacted relatives…Paraguay must act now to protect the lives of the last uncontacted Indians outside Amazonia.”

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indianmedicine's picture
indianmedicine
Submitted by indianmedicine on
How do you Think "America" was rid of Millions of Indigenous First Peoples? ................................................................................................................................... Bullets, Steel / Iron, and Disease........................................................................... ...................................................................................................................................

choctawgirl's picture
choctawgirl
Submitted by choctawgirl on
Whites do this all over the world. They go around wiping out indigenous people for their land and resources killing everything in it's path. They did this to Australia, Africa, America, everywhere. They are killing our trees. What will we breathe when all of the Earth Mother is destroyed? Clear cutting is illegal here in the states but tons of people do it here for profit. When will we learn we cannot eat our money? Not to mention killing off all kinds of life that could potentially cure cancers and all kinds of diseases. New species of plants and animals pop up all the time that we aren't aware of. It's sick. The Earth Mother is dying and so are we.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
im sure the 'cattle raisers' are happier than pigs in shit that our indigenees are passing out of their way at a rapid pace...of course the disease is not 'recognized' or prevented...same lack of treatment and care for natives has always been par for the course in the americas
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