Yellow fever outbreak in Brazil worries the US
In the New England Journal of Medicine, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Catharine Paules, MD, a third-year infectious disease fellow with the National Institutes of Health, warn that if the virus is picked up by the city-dwelling Aedes aegypti mosquito - the insect responsible for spreading Zika - the virus could spread to these densely populated city centers where the yellow fever vaccine is not regularly administered.
"In an era of frequent worldwide travel, any marked increase in domestic cases in Brazil raises the possibility of travel-related cases", they wrote.
Yellow fever is spread from one person to the next by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes - the same species that transmits Zika virus.
US health officials are sounding the alarm over yet another potential mosquito-borne health threat to Americans - yellow fever.
Brazil's Health Ministry said Tuesday that since December, when the yellow fever outbreak was first detected, there have been 127 confirmed deaths, with another 106 under investigation.
That mosquito, common in many tropical and subtropical cities, also carries the dengue and Zika viruses. However, the advent of outbreaks near urban centers "raises concern that, for the first time in decades, urban transmission of yellow fever will occur in Brazil", they explained.
What started in December as a rural, sylviatic (jungle-related) yellow fever outbreak in Brazil is now pushing toward urban areas, which could pose a risk of worldwide spread to U.S. states and territories, similar to what happened with Zika virus, federal infectious disease experts warned yesterday.
Even if Brazil's yellow fever outbreaks go to ground in the jungle, Fauci said the scenario now unfolding "reminds us of the things we need" to see potentially deadly epidemics coming - and respond to head them off.
"In light of the serious nature of this historically devastating disease, public health awareness and preparedness are critical", wrote Paules and Fauci.
"I have already asked all the prefects to increase the number of vaccination centres so we can give as quickly as possible the 3,600,000 immunization doses which Espirito Santo state is receiving in an extraordinary manner", Ricardo Barros, Brazil Health Minister, said.
The United States also had the worst Zika outbreak with Florida being the most affected.
"This isn't 'chicken little, the sky is falling, '" Dr. Fauci told the Washington Post.
A yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 exhausted the world's emergency vaccine stockpile. Yellow fever in the country has now claimed the lives of 220 people and the number could still rise over time.
"The Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic of 1793, for example, killed approximately 10 percent of the city's population", Fauci and Paules noted.
Symptoms are similar to the flu and could become severe to include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice - hence its name yellow fever.