Yellow fever in Brazil raises worries of a new Zika-like threat

Yellow fever in Brazil raises worries of a new Zika-like threat”

They were concerned that local yellow fever outbreaks could occur similar to the spread of Zika in the USA and other countries. There have been at least 326 confirmed cases, including 220 deaths, with hundreds of additional cases under investigation, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Dr. Catharine I. Paules and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci wrote the essay "Yellow Fever- Once Again on the Radar in the Americas" for The New England Journal of Medicine published on March 8. 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.

"In an era of frequent worldwide travel, any marked increase in domestic cases in Brazil raises the possibility of travel-related cases and local transmission in regions where yellow fever is not endemic", the team wrote.

Experts fear spread of the disease may resemble that of the Zika virus, which emerged in Brazil in 2015 and later spread to more than 60 countries including the United States, causing local outbreaks in Florida.

Yellow fever is a serious viral infection that's spread by certain types of mosquito.

The number of yellow fever cases reported so far in 2017 is higher than what Brazil normally experiences this time of year, the report said. With the recent outbreak, Brazilians health workers are now urging people to get vaccinated right away. With global travel more accessible and more frequent than ever, travel-related cases of yellow fever may happen in the U.S.

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.

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In a 2013-17 risk assessment, the World Health Organization advised travelers get vaccinations if they were visiting all but eight Brazilian states - six in the northeast, along with Espirito Santo and Rio de Janeiro.

Worryingly, the number of suspected and confirmed cases is Brazil's highest since 2000.

According to experts, the looming danger of a spreading outbreak was made worse by the fact that, while an effective vaccine against yellow fever had been around since 1937, worldwide stockpiles had been running dangerously low.

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

"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.

Those include good surveillance by doctors and public health officials to detect even small outbreaks; the capacity to ramp up vaccine production quickly; and a "public health emergency fund" so that government officials can take urgent measures to stamp out disease transmission before an epidemic takes hold.

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