Cases of Yellow Fever in South Florida may increase
Florida state health officials are concerned that yellow fever outbreaks in Brazil and South and Central America may lead to infected travelers bringing the disease with them. South Florida has the right mosquitos and climate for yellow fever to spread, and the United States doesn’t require foreign travelers to be vaccinated against the disease.
The Zika virus has gotten most of our attention the past couple of years, but how does it compare to Yellow Fever? Zika is a dangerous virus that can cause some infected pregnant women to give birth to babies with microcephaly. Yellow fever can be fatal. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that of the 464 confirmed cases in Brazil between July 2017 and February 2018, 154 deaths were reported. Here’s what you need to know about yellow fever.
One of the most frightening aspects of yellow fever is that the majority of people infected will experience symptoms so minor they likely won’t even realize they’ve been infected. Some symptoms include a slight fever, chills or a headache.
For some – an estimated 15% – the symptoms will return, but quickly worsen. These people will experience jaundice, a yellowing of the skin that gives the fever its name. Ultimately, yellow fever sufferers will experience liver and other organ failures caused by internal hemorrhage. The WHO says that half of these people die within seven to 10 days.
Because it’s spread by humans who are bitten by mosquitos, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising travelers not to go to known yellow fever hotspots without first getting vaccinated. The organization has elevated its alert level for Brazil, in particular.
In South Florida, the focus is on mosquito population control. Preventative procedures are already in place because of the Zika virus threat. Both diseases are carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is common in the South Florida area. This species also transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Officials are concerned that if foreign visitors infected with yellow fever are bitten by mosquitos while in the South Florida area, we could see an outbreak with the same explosive impact as the previous Zika wave. To combat a Yellow Fever outbreak, Broward County has been spraying to kill the population of infant mosquitos that coincide with South Florida’s rainy season, which usually lasts from mid-May to October.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is found mostly in urban areas. Females can lay their eggs in as little as a single bottle cap of standing water. Unlike many other mosquito species, Aedes aegypti will bite during daylight hours.
Zika remains a concern
The CDC reports that only 34 US cases of Zika virus disease have been reported so far in 2018. It’s indicative that local mosquito control has been effective, but it’s important to remember that there is still no vaccine for the Zika virus.
Reuters reports that Miami is at risk because the city has no checks on travelers from areas experiencing yellow fever outbreaks. With no natural immunity, it would be easy for the virus to proliferate through the mosquito population.
The available supply of the yellow fever vaccine here in the United States is limited. The CDC reports that its manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, announced a total depletion of the YF-Vax vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur doesn’t expect to have more of the vaccine available until the end of the year. With the Aedes aegypti mosquito found throughout the United States, all it would take is one person infected with yellow fever to be bitten by a single mosquito to spread the disease.
South Florida officials can suppress the local mosquito population, but they can’t stop foreigners infected with yellow fever from visiting the area. Decrease your exposure to mosquitos by equipping your backyard with an effective home misting system. Schedule a free consultation today.