US Officials Fear Yellow Fever Outbreak May Spread to US Territories
American health experts sounded the alarm on the likelihood of yellow fever outbreak in United States amid the prevailing spread of the disease in Brazil.
Fear of possible spread has raised some concerns that it could spread across American borders particularly in warmer territories. This was the case with Zika, say two health experts writing in an essay published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Health experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Catherine Paules wrote, while the likelihood of yellow fever outbreaks in the US is low, “travel-related cases of yellow fever could occur, with brief periods of local transmission in warmer regions such as the Gulf Coast states.”
To elaborate further, the health experts asserted that any increase in domestic cases in Brazil raises the possibility of travel-related cases.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Catharine Paules are members of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Scope of Yellow Fever Outbreak in Brazil
The yellow fever outbreak in Brazil that emerged in December 2016, has claimed 220 lives. The outbreak was dominantly recorded in rural areas in the southeastern part of the country including the eastern side of the country mainly in the states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and São Paulo.
Washington Post says the outbreak is taking place primarily in jungle areas, where forest-dwelling mosquitoes are spreading the virus mainly to monkeys.
With the unabated increase of people being infected with the virus, many dubbed it Brazil’s worst yellow fever outbreak among humans in decades.
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that there have been at least 326 confirmed cases in Brazil.
Yellow fever spreads to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits the Zika virus.
However, the outbreak in Brazil was not spread by this kind of mosquito but with other species of mosquitoes identified as Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitos.
Symptoms are similar to the flu and could become severe. They include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice – hence its name yellow fever.
A Powerful Vaccine Against Yellow fever
An incredible yellow fever vaccine exists and it provides up to 99% lifetime immunity. The only problem with the vaccine is its low stockpile and it takes a long time to produce.
According to WHO, the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 exhausted the world’s emergency vaccine stockpile. The campaign against the spread of disease resulted in the usage of more than 30 million vaccines.
Health experts emphasized that as vaccines ran low, health officials had to administer one-fifth of the standard dose to extend the supply.
WHO is on Alert
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working hard to monitor the outbreak and are ready to response when it gets out of control.
At present, transmission continues to expand toward Brazil’s Atlantic coast, with confirmed infections in the states of Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Espirito Santo.
WHO warned authorities that the entire state of Espirito Santo is considered at risk for yellow fever transmission as well.