The Origin of Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a hemorrhagic sickness caused by a virus. It was one of the most feared diseases of the colonial era when it was first recorded in the New World in the 16th century. The virus that causes yellow fever is transferred by infected mosquitoes and cannot be transmitted from person to person. Between 1700 and 1900, an estimated 200,000 individuals died of yellow fever, including 5,000 European colonists in Latin America. Throughout North America, including the southern United States, Canada, Mexico, Panama, and northern South America, pestilence and mortality rates were high, with regular epidemics attributable to mosquito-borne transmission throughout the summer months.
The History of Yellow Fever in America
Yellow fever has been decimating populations in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and even the southern United States since 1526. It was not until 1796 that it traveled to New York City for the first time, brought by infected ship passengers. By 1802, yellow fever had spread across most of the eastern seaboard of North America. This disease is transmitted through a mosquito vector that feeds primarily on monkeys in their natural habitat in Africa and Brazil. The term “yellow fever” is used to describe an attraction to East Asian women. It’s believed that the term originated in 16th century China when European explorers observed Chinese citizens suffering from jaundice, which created a yellow discoloration of their skin.
The History of Yellow Fever in Asia and Africa
Transmitted by infected mosquitoes, yellow fever can cause severe illness with bleeding, jaundice, organ failure, and eventually death. The disease has been present for at least 3,000 years. It was one of the first diseases described in medical literature, appearing in the writings of Hippocrates (460–370 BC) and Galen (129-200 AD).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the earliest known case dates back to Egypt in 1550 B.C., when at least 100 people died from the disease after drinking water from the Nile River. From there, it spread steadily through Africa and Asia before reaching Europe in 1492 during Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to America. The first recorded outbreak of the disease was in the Mekong Delta (Vietnam) in 1779. The term “yellow fever” is derived from its distinctive symptom of jaundice, which results from liver failure and hemorrhaging.
What is Yellow Fever?
The virus is endemic in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and South America, where it can infect humans and nonhuman primates such as monkeys. The term “yellow fever” refers to a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito which is transmitted through bites from female mosquitoes. The name comes from the fact that it was observed that people with yellow fever had jaundiced skin, initially thought to be caused by too much blood being forced to the skin surface.
Symptoms of Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a disease that was common in tropical areas in the 18th and 19th centuries. The symptoms of yellow fever include Fever, chills, headache, backache, muscle pain, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain with severe diarrhea. These symptoms generally appear 4-6 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. In severe cases of yellow fever, patients experience jaundice (yellowing of the skin), red eyes, or bleeding from the mouth and nose.
Yellow Fever Vaccine and Treatment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently reported that there is a global shortage of yellow fever vaccines for travelers. The demand for the vaccine is much larger than the supply, and this shortage will likely continue through 2018. Scientists have found a way to vaccinate children against yellow fever. Research conducted in Brazil has shown that a yellow fever vaccine can protect infants from the deadly disease, which is spread by infected mosquitoes and kills around 30 percent of those infected.
The yellow fever vaccine is effective for the prevention of the disease, but it must be administered at least 10 days before travel to an endemic area. The vaccine can’t prevent infection if you are bitten by an infected mosquito while traveling. A single dose of the yellow fever vaccine is valid for life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The origin of yellow fever is unknown, but researchers have found that the disease was present in Africa at least 4,000 years ago. Today, yellow fever continues to be a major public health problem in South America and sub-Saharan Africa. Yellow fever is a disease caused by mosquito bites, and its symptoms can vary from very mild to severe. If you travel to areas where the virus is prevalent, it’s important to take precautions such as using insect repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing.