Yellow fever threatens globe

Health officials are scrambling to control
a deadly yellow fever outbreak in southern
and central Africa before the mosquitoborne
illness spreads to Europe, Asia, and
the Americas. Carried primarily by Aedes
aegypti, the same mosquito that spreads
Zika and dengue, yellow fever has already
killed more than 400 people in Angola
and the Democratic Republic of Congo,
the World Health Organization (WHO)
reports. (Most people with yellow fever
experience only mild muscle pain, jaundice,
and fever, but a small percentage of
patients develop a more severe form—and
about half of these die within several days.)
Efforts to immunize more than 14 million
people in the region have been complicated
by a global vaccine shortage as well
as humid conditions that provide fertile
breeding ground for mosquitoes. Since the
vaccine takes at least six months to produce,
those at risk will receive one-fifth of
the standard dose, which offers protection
against the illness for about one year. “This
outbreak response has been complex and
challenging,” WHO’s Tarik Jasarevic tells “For the first time, WHO
and other partners are dealing with an
outbreak of yellow fever in a dense, urban
setting.” Urbanization, greater mobility,
and climate change, he notes, “mean an
increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases
spreading internationally.”

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