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Yellow Fever Essay

615 words - 3 pages

“A disease that has yet to be conquered” (Barrett & Higgs, 2007). Such a quaint, simplistic phrase that yet effectively describes the disease commonly known today as yellow fever. Over the course of history, the yellow fever virus (YFV) has decimated populations in various regions all across the globe. While the overall gross impact of yellow fever has declined over the years, the virus still poses a significant threat present day, especially to those in the developing world. The World Health Organization currently estimates that approximately 200,000 cases of yellow fever occur around the world each year, resulting in 30,000 fatalities (Bundschuh et al, 2013). Presently, yellow fever remains without a legitimate cure, and the best defence against the virus lies with preventative action. WHO identifies its three major yellow fever prevention strategies as vaccination, mosquito control, and epidemic response (WHO Yellow Fever Fact Sheet, 2014). This ...view middle of the document...

In order to holistically understand the epidemiological nature of the yellow fever virus, one must delve into the central biology of the disease. In technical terms, yellow fever classifies as a an “acute viral hemorrhagic disease (WHO Yellow Fever Fact Sheet, 2014). The actual virus (ie. yellow fever virus) belongs to the genus Flavivirus, a category of viruses that most commonly transferred through arthropod carriers (Barrett & Higgs, 2007 p.209). Most often, the yellow fever virus is spread by means of the sylvatic cycle, a stage in the life-cycle of the virus where it passes between animals and its vector (Immunization Newsletter PAHO, 2013 p.5). Once the virus passes through its vector and into a human host, the disease begins to set in. The virus attacks the internal organs of its host, and as the liver fails, the body begins to lose function (Espinosa, 2009, p.2). As mentioned prior, there remains no legitimate cure for yellow fever, and treatment centres itself around the care of the patient. In conspicuous attacks of yellow fever, the observable symptoms can be quite dramatic. Sharp pain, prostration, yellowing of the skin and vomit black with coagulated blood, are all possible symptoms of the disease (Coleman, 1987 p.7).

The yellow fever virus spreads and is transmitted via mosquitoes carrying the pathogen. As a vector, mosquitoes efficiently and effectively disperse the disease to suitable hosts. In endemic areas of Africa and Latin America, numerous species of both Aedes and Haemagogus mosquitoes transfer the yellow fever virus (WHO Yellow Fever Fact Sheet, 2014). Perhaps the most prominent of these mosquito species, with regards to yellow fever transmission, is Aedes aegypti. Commonly referred to as “the yellow fever mosquito”, Aedes aegypti originate from the African continent, but can now be found in tropical areas all over the world (Aedes aegypti Eliminate Dengue Program, 2014). Currently considered a form of domestic mosquito, Aedes aegypti flourish in their tropical habitats, and their populations remain particularly hard to control. Furthermore, Aedes aegypti like to lay their eggs in small tracts of water (including those that are man made) thus increasing the

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