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Yellow Fever – Another Reason to Hate Mosquitos

Out of the blue one day you begin to run a fever. The fever expands into loss of appetite and vomiting. A few days later, the vomiting continues and you develop jaundice; you even begin to bleed from your mouth, nose, and eyes. Eventually you die. This is the experience of 7% of the individuals who are infected by Yellow Fever (WHO, 2017).

Yellow Fever is a preventable disease that is spread through mosquitos. The disease has the potential to kill its victim (WHO, 2017). It has an inexpensive vaccine that provides a lifelong immunity to the disease (WHO - French Guiana). As of 2016, there have been reported outbreaks of Yellow Fever in six countries; three in Africa, and three in South America (Yellow Fever in Africa and the Americas, 2016).

According to the World Health Organization, Yellow Fever is spread through mosquitos. A mosquito bites an infected carrier (either a person or monkey). The same mosquito then bites an uninfected person or monkey and spreads the disease to that individual. Yellow Fever will incubate in the new carrier for three to six days before symptoms begin to show. The symptoms begin as body aches, fever, nausea and vomiting. It is at this point that the disease is often misdiagnosed as other illnesses and diseases such as poisoning, malaria, hepatitis, etc. Within another three to four days, most patients improve. However, 15% of infected patients will progress to a second stage of symptoms that are much more severe. This stage exhibits symptoms such as jaundice, continued vomiting, and even bleeding out of the mouth, nose, and eyes. The patient’s kidney functions deteriorate and half of these patients will even die (WHO, 2017).

Thankfully, there is a vaccine for Yellow Fever. The vaccine requires ten days to become affective and it will last the entire life span of the patient. The only issue is getting the vaccine to the affected areas and raising awareness of the disease and the vaccine to the population in that area (WHO - French Guiana).

A 2017 report in the Weekly Epidemiological Record, says that in 2016, the world saw six countries where there was a Yellow Fever outbreak. The three African countries where the outbreak occurred are Angola, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Africa had 130 confirmed deaths from Yellow Fever as a result of that outbreak. The death rate was 13.4% of the confirmed cases; this is about double the expected death rate (Yellow Fever in Africa and the Americas, 2016). This high death rate might be attributed to the poor sanitation and lack of access to medical treatment in those areas. According to the World Health Organization, the only way to treat Yellow Fever is with hydration, antibiotics, and supportive care for respiratory failure (WHO, 2017). These treatments are likely less common in East-Central African countries.

The other three countries listed in the 2017 report were in South America. These countries are Brazil, Columbia, and Peru. There were less cases of Yellow Fever in these countries when compared with Africa, but the death rate was a shocking 28.2% (Yellow Fever in Africa and the Americas, 2016)! The same reasons for the high death rate likely apply to these countries as well (poor sanitation and lack of access to medical treatment).

Yellow Fever is a preventable disease that has a simple method of exposure. Most of its victims do not die, and it is currently limited to countries where the mosquito population is less controlled and there is limited access to medical treatment. The World Health Organizations advice is to limit travel to countries where a Yellow Fever outbreak has occurred, but if a person does travel there, they should receive the vaccine ten days prior to their travel. Additionally, the World Health Organization stresses limiting exposure to mosquitos. The World Health Organization proposes that the citizens in these areas should be educated on the disease and its vaccine (WHO - French Guiana). By following these instructions, Yellow Fever should likely be contained to a few countries throughout the world, and possibly even eradicated one day.

References:

Yellow Fever in Africa and the Americas, 2016. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 32, 442-452. Retrieved fromhttp://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy195.nclive.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=1b24418c-8c06-466d-8578-4bd75e665959%40sessionmgr104

World Health Organization (August 30, 2017). Yellow Fever –France-French Guiana. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/csr/don/30-august-2017-yellow-fever-french-guiana/en/

World Health Organization. Yellow Fever. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/csr/disease/yellowfev/en/

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Deanna Hettinger
Deanna HettingerLv2
29 Sep 2019

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