Yellow Fever Makes a Comeback as Zika Takes a Backseat

Fagjun | Published 2017-03-10 02:50

After Zika, Brazil is facing the possibility of a yellow fever outbreak.

Rural areas in Brazil have been experiencing unexpected outbreaks of Zika's deadlier cousin. Because the same mosquito species that carries Zika can also carry yellow fever, experts fear that an epidemic is possible.

A new report details outbreaks of the dangerous arbovirus in the rural parts of Brazil. These areas have seen 234 confirmed cases of yellow fever, 80 deaths, and hundred of unconfirmed cases since last month. Typically, forest mosquitoes transmit the virus to non-human primates that also dwell in the forests. Transmission to humans is incidental. However, health officials report an unusual spike in the number of reported cases.

Health officials are concerned that the outbreak will soon spread into Brazil's cities. The outbreaks are happening closer and closer to the urban areas. Because urban areas are more densely populated, the virus can spread more quickly. Catharine Paules and Anthony S. Fauci, the writers of the report, warn that the disease can spread to other places in the Americas.

Yellow Fever vs Zika

Aedes aegypti is a mosquito species that can transmit the Zika virus to humans through its bite. This virus broke out in Brazil in 2015 and has since spread to other countries in the Americas. Zika-infected people exhibit only some the disease's symptoms, and symptoms are often mild. The symptoms last for up to a week, and deaths from the virus are rare.

However, a pregnant woman with Zika can transmit the virus to her fetus. This has lead to many cases of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects.

There is a shortage of yellow fever vaccine going on, which can impede efforts to stem the outbreak.

There is no treatment or vaccines against Zika. The best ways to protect yourself against it is to prevent mosquito bites and avoid traveling to places with reported outbreaks.

Yellow fever, on the other hand, is deadlier. The same mosquitoes that transmit Zika also transmit this deadlier virus. This is what's worrying to health officials. Since Zika spread throughout Brazil and beyond, its more dangerous cousin might spread in the same way.

When people contract the virus, they first experience the initial symptoms, which include fever, vomiting, and weakness, among others. Though many people get better after these symptoms, 15% of infected people get a lot worse after they get better. The disease then gets severe, and it can eventually lead to multiple organ failure.

While there is no vaccine for Zika, there is one for yellow fever, and it can protect 99% of recipients for life. However, vaccination is not as simple as it sounds. Health workers don't regularly administer vaccines in Brazil and in other places in the Americas. Also, the world's supply of vaccines against the virus is dwindling fast.

Public Health Awareness and Preparedness”

Paules and Fauci urge vigilance. It's best to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito and avoid traveling to places with reported outbreaks. Being aware of the symptoms and how the diseases spread could save your life and help stop an outbreak. After all, both Zika and yellow fever are entirely preventable.

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