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News Worms


USA doctors sound alarm on yellow fever outbreak

USA doctors sound alarm on yellow fever outbreak

In an essay rushed into print by the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, two doctors from the National Institutes of Health warn that cases of yellow fever, which can kill as many as 10 percent of those infected, have seen an unusual spike in the last few weeks in several rural areas of Brazil. 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 authors stressed that there's yet no evidence that mosquitoes are transmitting yellow fever between infected people.

Dr. Fauci and Dr. Paules also warned that USA territories like Puerto Rico - where more than 37,000 people have contracted Zika since January 2015 - could be vulnerable to outbreaks of yellow fever.

Brazil's Health Ministry said Tuesday (March 7) that since December, when the yellow fever outbreak was first detected, there have been 127 confirmed deaths, with another 106 under investigation.

Officials from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been monitoring the outbreak closely.

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The disease can spread through the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also transmits the Zika virus.

Fauci clarified that it has not reached a critical level but they would be alarmed if residents in urban areas started showing symptoms of yellow fever, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Dr. Fauci said that he considers it unlikely that an outbreak will spread but that he'd be more anxious if yellow fever started appearing in big cities such as Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, or Brazilia. They also warned that yellow fever outbreaks could occur in United States territories. Both viruses are spread by the same mosquito species.

"As with all potentially reemerging infectious diseases, public health awareness and preparedness are essential to prevent a resurgence of this historical threat", they write.

"In an era of frequent global 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.

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"This is not 'chicken little, the sky is falling, '" he said. The health agency also counted 326 confirmed cases and 916 suspected cases of the disease.

They are urging clinicians, particularly those in the USA and other places where yellow fever is uncommon, to inform themselves about yellow fever symptoms and to adopt a high index of suspicion for this diagnosis, particularly when examining travellers returning from affected regions. During that outbreak, the world's emergency vaccine stockpile reserve was exhausted, making the outbreak more hard to control. Yellow fever in the country has now claimed the lives of 220 people and the number could still rise over time.

Symptoms are similar to the flu and could become severe to include fever, headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and jaundice - hence its name yellow fever.

In the Brazilian outbreak, 80 people have died from the 234 documented cases.

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