Black Urine Disease: what is known about a possible outbreak in the Amazon

  • André Biernath – @andre_biernath
  • From BBC News Brasil in São Paulo


Credit, Getty Images

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Related to a toxin found in fish and shellfish, Haff’s disease is rare, but it has caused some outbreaks in Brazil over the past five years.

176 kilometers from Manaus, the city of Itacoatiara has caught the attention of the health authorities of Amazonas in recent days. Since August 22, dozens of local residents have a condition called rhabdomyolysis, marked by the destruction of the fibers that make up the body’s muscles.

In the same period, individuals from five other municipalities in Amazonas (Silves, Manaus, Parintins, Caapiranga and Autazes) were also diagnosed with the same condition.

All 44 cases registered so far are being investigated, but the main suspicion is that these individuals have been affected by Haff’s disease, popularly known as “black urine disease”.

Known since the 1920s, the disease is related to a toxin that is found in fish and shellfish.