Resurgence of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Venezuela as a Regional Public Health Threat in the Americas

Emerg Infect Dis. 2019 Apr;25(4):625-632. doi: 10.3201/eid2504.181305. Epub 2019 Apr 17.


Venezuela's tumbling economy and authoritarian rule have precipitated an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Hyperinflation rates now exceed 45,000%, and Venezuela's health system is in free fall. The country is experiencing a massive exodus of biomedical scientists and qualified healthcare professionals. Reemergence of arthropod-borne and vaccine-preventable diseases has sparked serious epidemics that also affect neighboring countries. In this article, we discuss the ongoing epidemics of measles and diphtheria in Venezuela and their disproportionate impact on indigenous populations. We also discuss the potential for reemergence of poliomyelitis and conclude that action to halt the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases within Venezuela is a matter of urgency for the country and the region. We further provide specific recommendations for addressing this crisis.

Keywords: Americas; Venezuela; diphtheria; immunization; measles; outbreak; polio; vaccination; vaccine-preventable diseases; vaccines; vector-borne infections; viruses.

MeSH terms

  • Americas / epidemiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / diagnosis
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / epidemiology*
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / etiology
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging / prevention & control
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Geography, Medical
  • Humans
  • Immunization
  • Public Health Surveillance
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / diagnosis
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / etiology
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases / prevention & control
  • Vaccines / immunology
  • Venezuela / epidemiology


  • Vaccines