If you think about yellow fever and other things mosquito-borne diseasesThese are diseases that are transmitted to people when they are bitten by an infected mosquito, so you’re probably assuming they don’t occur often in the US – and you’re right.
While these diseases are more common elsewhere in the world, particularly in Africa and South America starts to rise in the USA In June, for example Malaria was diagnosed for the first time in 20 years in the USA. More recently, the first locally acquired case of A dengue virus has been discovered in California.
Experts now fear that yellow fever – which has not seen a major outbreak in the United States since 1905 it killed 900 people in New Orleans – could also make a comeback.
Baylor College of Medicine recently a release is granted It says cases of mosquito-borne viral infections are increasing, particularly in southern states – which could lead to a resurgence of yellow fever.
Infectious disease experts at Baylor School of Medicine and Stanford School of Medicine published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine Warning about yellow fever and urging it to be prioritized in national pandemic preparedness planning.
Experts say climate change is playing a role in the increase in these mosquito-borne diseases in the United States. “The threat of developing yellow fever in America is closely linked to rising temperatures and climate change.” Dr. Sarah ParkMedical Director at Karius, tells Yahoo Life. “Mosquitoes love warm, wet weather.”
Should I be worried?
As with many diseases, the severity of yellow fever depends on the individual case. However, there is less cause for concern today than there was during the last outbreak in the United States more than a century ago.
Yellow fever can be fatal, but most people have it no symptoms According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they experience either mild or mild symptoms and make a full recovery. “The mortality rate is low today thanks to modern medicine and a vaccine that reduces the risk of serious illness.” Linda YanceyInfectious disease specialist at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, tells Yahoo Life.
The yellow fever vaccination that existed Available for 80 yearsis not part of the standard vaccinations in the United States and is primarily given when people travel to a place where there are active cases, such as Africa or South America, Yancey explains.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US is or will be 100 percent safe. “We are seeing an increase in several mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S., including malaria and dengue fever,” says Yancey. “If these can come back, there’s no reason why yellow fever can’t come back.”
Historically, outbreaks are most likely to hit the South, Park said, along ports like New Orleans; Galveston, Texas; and along the Mississippi.
However, Park points out, “The spread of mosquito-borne diseases is very limited in the United States because we all tend to sleep indoors with air conditioning and there are no native non-human primate populations,” meaning mosquitoes have less opportunity , to bite humans or to bite animals that may act as hosts.
What can I do?
First and foremost, get vaccinated if you are traveling to a yellow fever area. (The CDC has Yellow Fever Cards This can also help determine the details.) “The yellow fever vaccine is safe and provides lifelong immunity against the disease,” Park says. “Currently, the vaccine is recommended for people 9 months of age or older who are traveling to or living in areas at risk for the yellow fever virus in Africa and South America.” She adds that receiving the vaccine is a requirement for entry to certain countries countries could be.
Otherwise, Yancey says it’s best to avoid or repel mosquitoes whenever possible. If you’re outside in an area with mosquitoes, she says, you can use repellents like deet, picaridin or permethrin, the latter applied to clothing.
Treating clothing with permethrin is “a great strategy,” Yancey says, because it can survive multiple washes, “and for young children because they don’t like the feel of repellent on their skin.”
Park also recommends wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants; sleeping under a mosquito net when screened rooms are not available; Stay in air-conditioned rooms if possible. and stay informed. “Before you travel, check the CDC or WHO websites for up-to-date information about the risk of yellow fever in your intended destination,” she says.
It also doesn’t hurt to know the symptoms of yellow fever. The telltale sign is yellow eyes and skin, Yancey says, which is due to the virus attacking the liver.
However, the signs may initially look different. Early symptoms include fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, body aches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, according to Park.
“Most people get better after this initial phase,” she says. “Although roughly 15 percent of patients may enter a more toxic phase within 24 hours.” At that point, she says, you may notice high fever, jaundice, bleeding, abdominal pain, shock and even organ dysfunction.
If you notice these signs, both Yancey and Park urge you to seek medical attention immediately. “Early detection and supportive care can make a significant difference in outcomes,” says Park, advising patients to tell their doctor whether they have traveled (and where) in the two weeks before symptoms appeared.
The most important takeaway
Experts say education, protection from mosquito bites and vaccination are crucial when traveling to countries at risk of the yellow fever virus.
“The disease should be on the public health radar so that we have the ability to act in the event of an outbreak, but if there is an outbreak, it will be fairly easy to contain,” Yancey says. “Yellow fever is very rare in the United States, but there are other vaccine-preventable viruses.”