Thursday, 19 October, 2017

Zika-Like Yellow Fever Raises Concern Despite Availability Of Vaccine: Here's Why

Researchers say yellow fever in Brazil means a chance of the disease coming to the US If the sometimes-deadly virus takes hold in Brazil's big cities we could see small pockets travel-related illness in the
Sammy Stanley | 12 March, 2017, 00:40

The doctors also observed that, in an era of frequent worldwide travel, an increase in domestic cases in Brazil has the potential to spread yellow fever to non-endemic areas and could pose serious disease-control challenges.

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.

Since the areas in Brazil now affected by the outbreak are close to major urban centers, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo where millions of people live, infectious disease experts are concerned that the virus could spread into city populations there for the first time in decades.

An uncommon spike in the number of yellow fever cases in the country has raised concerns that it could also increase travel-related cases.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said in its latest outbreak update today that confirmed cases in Espirito Santo have been reported in the cities of Serra and Aracruz, both close to large urban areas.

Yellow fever spreads to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito, and outbreaks usually occur in South America and Africa. Most doctors have never seen yellow fever, which made its most frightening mark in the United States in Philadelphia in the fall of 1793. But the World Health Organization expanded its vaccination recommendation to include parts of the state in January. Now, though, the health ministry is rushing to vaccinate people, sending almost 15 million extra doses to the newly affected areas.

Although there is a vaccine for yellow fever it is not given as a routine vaccination program in Brazil, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The outbreak in the Brazilian states of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, and São Paulo had taken a toll of 80 lives with 234 confirmed infections as of February 2017.

Top infectious disease specialists are warning that a yellow fever outbreak in the jungles of Brazil could bring the disease to the United States.

In outbreaks of the disease two years back in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo, public health officials ran so short of the vaccine that they resorted to giving each person one-fifth of a dose.

"The concern now is that there are a considerable number of these jungle cases, and there's always the possibility - although it's very unlikely - that some of these infected people in the jungle" will travel to an urban area and spread the infection to the city-dwelling Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, Fauci said in an interview Wednesday, rather than the jungle-dwelling species that are transmitting it now.

That mosquito, common in many tropical and subtropical cities, also carries the dengue and Zika viruses, which has been linked to thousands of babies being born with underdeveloped brains. There are 326 confirmed cases of yellow fever and 916 are suspected to have this disease.

"In light of the serious nature of this historically devastating disease, public health awareness and preparedness are critical", wrote Paules and Fauci.

Researchers for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared birth outcomes prior to the Zika epidemic's outbreak in 2015 - using data from three US state registries - to those of mothers infected by the virus in 2016.

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