Yellow fever could threaten South Florida following an outbreak up in Brazil if action against dangerous mosquitoes similar to the 2016 Zika scare doesn’t continue, the Sun Sentinel reported.
While there hasn’t been a yellow fever outbreak in the United States in more than 100 years, the spread of the disease in Central and South America could lead to some travelers carrying it to the U.S. where mosquitoes could transmit it farther.
At least 338 people in Brazil have died and 1,131 cases of yellow fever have been reports from last July to March, the Sun Sentinel said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that travelers to Brazil should receive a vaccine because of the ongoing yellow fever outbreak in the country.
South Florida officials are hoping that renewed mosquito control plans implemented to lessen the Zika threat can also contain a potential yellow fever outbreak, the Sun Sentinel said. Yellow fever and Zika are be spread by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can also transmit dengue and chikungunya.
“If yellow fever is introduced into South Florida, and I suppose it will be, you’re not going to see the same explosive outbreak we did with Zika,” Justin Stoler, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Miami, told the Sun Sentinel.
“There hasn’t been prior exposure, but we’ve kept mosquito populations down, which is a good thing.”
While most of people infected with yellow fever virus will develop no illness or only mild illness, about 15 percent of cases will advance to a more severe form of the disease, according to the CDC. Those symptoms are characterized by high fever, jaundice, bleeding, and eventually shock, and failure of multiple organs.
The Zika virus brought by travelers abroad – particularly Brazil – to the country and spread by mosquitoes spiked in South Florida in 2016, the Sun Sentinel said. The infections grew in Miami-Dade’s Wynwood neighborhood with 287 reported cases.
Zika cases have been reduced dramatically over the past two years since South Florida counties intensified mosquito-control efforts and more people were protected because of previous exposure to the virus.
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