The West

Mystery disease threatens South American tribe
Ojnai Posorojai, a member of the last tribe of Totobiegosode, leaves the campgrounds in search of some wild honey.

A mysterious, Tuberculosis-like illness is threatening members of a South American tribe who live a basic life and still hunt in the Amazon forest for a living.

Tribal rights group Survival International has warned that the disease may wipe out the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe from Paraguay's Chaco region.

The International Business Times reports that the Totobiegosode are the most isolated sub groups of Ayoreo tribe of the Paraguayn Chaco.

Tirita Chiquenoro, of the last tribe of Totobiegosode, left, and her daughter, Jacore Etacoro eat palmitas along with Joro Picanere, second from right, and her son Ugui Pososdai, in Chaidi, some 600 kilometres north of Asuncion, Paraguay. Photo: AP.

They were first contacted in 2004.

"The deadly epidemic threatens to wipe out Paraguay's recently contacted Ayoreo tribe, and sets a deadly precedent for their relatives still hiding in the forests, who are the last uncontacted Indians outside the Amazon," the organisation said in a statement.

Cattle ranchers burn the Indians' land to establish their ranches, forcing out the tribal people.

Joro Picanere, member of the last tribe of Totobiegosode, holds her son Ugui Posodai. Photo: AP.

Almost all the Ayoreo members, who have been forced out of their lands, have suffered from the rare disease, the IBT reports.

"The most recent Ayoreo victim killed by the respiratory disease, Chiri Etacore, was forced out of the forest in 1986. Chiri died in October 2013," Survival International said.

An unknown number of relatives of these indigenous people are still uncontacted and are threatened by the epidemic.

"When uncontacted people 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," Survival's director Stephen Corry said.

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