Medicine

US Medical Experts Issue Warning on Yellow Fever's Advance

US Medical Experts Issue Warning on Yellow Fever's Advance

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 global spread to USA states and territories, similar to what happened with Zika virus, federal infectious disease experts warned yesterday.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, health officials have confirmed 371 yellow fever cases, including 241 deaths.

In a perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and his associate Catharine Paules, MD, said so far there is no evidence that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are involved in Brazil's yellow fever outbreak, a hallmark of urban outbreaks. They add that while it is not likely that yellow fever outbreaks will occur in the continental United States, "it is possible that travel-related cases of yellow fever could occur, with brief periods of local transmission in warmer regions such as the Gulf Coast states, where A. aegypti mosquitoes are prevalent".

USA health experts are keeping an eye on an outbreak of yellow fever in rural areas in Brazil since December.

The United States is on high alert after yellow fever in rural Brazil turns into an outbreak.

The fatality rate for this outbreak is 33 percent for confirmed cases and 11 percent for suspected cases.

However, "early recognition may be hard in countries such as the United States, where most physicians have never seen a case of yellow fever", the experts pointed out.


Officials from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been monitoring the outbreak closely. 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 highly effective vaccine for yellow fever, it is not routinely given in Brazil's major urban centers, they said.

So far confirmed cases have been reported in three of Brazil's states: Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, and Sao Paulo.

Fauci and Paules note that the limited number of stockpiled vaccine doses and the long time needed to produce additional vaccines is especially concerning during the ongoing outbreak in Brazil's jungles. These people are infected by jungle-dwelling mosquito species and may travel to the city and spread the virus.

Since December, 1,336 cases of yellow fever have been reported in South American countries including Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. But for yellow fever to gain a foothold in this country, many of those mosquitoes would need to feast on the blood of people who had been infected elsewhere and traveled here. The health agency also counted 326 confirmed cases and 916 suspected cases of the disease.

In an interview with the Post, Dr. Fauci said infectious disease clinicians should be wary of yellow fever moving forward as most have not encountered the virus before.

The fearsome disease starts like a common flu, with symptoms of headache, fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting.