A virus caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, known as the yellow fever virus, can be found in subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus causes those infected to experience symptoms of aches and pains, fever, chills, and yellowing of the skin, called jaundice.
While the first outbreaks of the disease occurred in the 16th century in central and South America, Western Africa is said to be “the home of the yellow fever.” Yellow fever has infected many worldwide, not only just in tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, but also in areas of Europe such as France, England, Spain, and Italy.
When the virus first began to spread, there were many differing opinions on the spread of the virus. One doctor called the virus “a virulent filth disease” brought to the Americas through unsanitary practices on ships bringing African slaves to the “New World.” In 1881, a Cuban epidemiologist advised that yellow fever was caused by “an infectious agent” spread by the Aedes aegypti, a type of species of mosquitoes. This finding led to the demonstration by a U.S. Army pathologist showing that yellow fever was transferred from one human to another through the bite of an infected mosquito. With this discovery, it was also found that infected mosquitoes were the carriers of the disease, not humans.
These new findings allowed for American surgeon Williams Gorgas to help stop the spread of the yellow fever, starting with Cuba, where he was able to almost eliminate the virus through the control of mosquito population. His mission continued in Brazil and then eventually to Panama.
Today, yellow fever is seen as an endemic in many topical areas. In 2018, there were an estimated 200,000 cases of people infected with the virus. Of those cases, approximately 30,000 people are reported to have died from the virus, with more than half of all cases occurring in Africa.
There is no cure for the yellow fever virus. Prevention is the only way to stop the spread. With more and more people becoming vaccinated, there has been a decrease in the number of infections. In 2001, the Internal Coordinating Group on Vaccine Provision for Yellow Fever Control was created to help supply countries in need of vaccines to help combat the spread of the virus.
Groups such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Gavi have helped create a global strategy plan called “EYE,” Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics. The EYE strategy’s mission is to help protect people who may be at risk of becoming infected with the virus, while also preventing the spread through knowledge and vaccines. The EYE also helps treat those who have become infected with the virus as well. The EYE strategy’s goal is to end the yellow fever epidemic by the year 2026.
To find out more about the EYE Strategy, please view the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF4-TNJRXeE&feature=youtu.be
By: Ashley Pure