The news worries advocates because uncontacted groups are extremely vulnerable to diseases to which they have no immunity. Past epidemics of malaria and the flu, for example, have devastated other tribes. What's more, this particular group may be at risk of violence from illegal loggers and drug traffickers in the region. Through interpreters, these seven individuals, who speak a Panoan language, reported that they were fleeing violent attacks in their home territory in Peru; they apparently came into contact with non-Indians who had fired gunshots at them near the source of the Envira River.
"The nightmare scenario is that they return to their former villages carrying flu with them," Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, said in a statement. "It's a real test of Brazil's ability to protect these vulnerable groups. Unless a proper and sustained medical program is immediately put in place, the result could be a humanitarian catastrophe."
In light of recent events, FUNAI reopened a post in the region that had been closed since 2011 when it was overrun by drug traffickers and illegal loggers. Officials with the Brazilian agency also said they were working with Peruvian authorities to monitor and protect uncontacted people in the area.