April 15, 2008 / 7:47 PM / 10 years ago

Campbell adds voice, not blood, to Rio dengue fight

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Supermodel Naomi Campbell visited a Rio de Janeiro blood donor center on Tuesday to support the fight against a dengue fever epidemic but her offer to give blood was rejected.

British supermodel Naomi Campbell wears a t-shirt against Dengue as she attends a news conference at Rio's Hemorio blood bank in Rio de Janeiro April 15, 2008. Dengue has killed 83 people since January and infected more than 75,000 in Rio de Janeiro state, according to official figures. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos

Campbell said she was turned down because she had surgery in February, when she was rushed to a hospital in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo to have a cyst removed.

“Unfortunately I cannot give my blood to Rio ... but I will be back, for sure,” said the 37-year-old British model, a frequent visitor to Brazil because of her role as Rio good-will “ambassador” and a reported Brazilian fiance.

Campbell, wearing a white “Rio Against Dengue” T-shirt, went on to advise Rio residents on how to combat the outbreak, which has killed about 50 people and made nearly 60,000 sick in the city.

At least 80 people have died of the mosquito-borne disease in Rio de Janeiro state although there are signs that the outbreak is now under control with cases falling sharply and smaller lines of infected people outside clinics in the city.

The potentially fatal hemorrhagic form of dengue has left hospitals facing a shortage of blood for transfusions.

Known for her fiery temper, Campbell hit the headlines last week when she was escorted off an British Airways airplane in London and arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. Media reports said she had been banned from flying with BA.

“Absolutely TAM! I came on TAM,” Campbell said when asked how she had traveled to Brazil this time, referring to one of Brazil’s leading airlines.

Campbell urged the Rio mayor to set up 24-hour health clinics, something he has been reluctant to do because of the violence that plagues many slum areas of the city.

Health experts have criticized authorities for allowing large mosquito populations to form, especially in poor areas of the tourist city that have borne the brunt of cases, and for being underprepared for an outbreak.

Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry

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