Fri | Mar 23, 2018

The Tranquil Way | Prepare for yellow fever!

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM

These days, mosquitos are probably 'public enemy number 1'! There are several diseases spread by them that have become globally significant, including the Zika virus, an outbreak of which is being experienced in Jamaica. Yellow fever is now coming up on the radar as another global threat and it is also spread by the bite of the aedes aegypti

mosquito. This mosquito has been wreaking havoc in our country as it is responsible for the spread of dengue, chikungunya, and now, Zika.

Yellow fever is not far away from us. It exists in several Central and South American countries, including Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Trinidad, Guyana, Colombia, Venezuela, and Suriname. An outbreak in our country is, therefore, not far-fetched. Furthermore, it's important to keep yellow fever in mind because there is currently an outbreak in Angola, with spread to several other countries, so global spread may not be far away.

Fortunately, most people with yellow fever have little or no signs of disease.

The signs of disease usually develop about three to six days after contracting the infection.


Early symptoms

The early symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, headache, body aches, back pain, nausea,vomiting, and weakness.

These symptoms usually last about three five days and then resolve. However, about 15 per cent of these persons progress to a more serious form of the disease within 24 hours of the initial symptoms resolving. They may then get yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, high fever, abdominal pain with vomiting and bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth, or stomach. Several organs of the body are usually affected, especially the liver and kidney. Twenty to 50 per cent of persons affected by the severe form die within 7 10 days. Good supportive measures improve the survival of those affected, but there is no specific treatment of the disease. As with other diseases, those with chronic illnesses (such as diabetes) and a weakened immune system usually have worse outcomes.

The most fortunate thing about yellow fever is that it has been prevented by a vaccination that is available locally. Just like the other mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito-reduction measures and other means to prevent mosquito bites are also important. These include use of mosquito nets/mesh, mosquito repellent, insecticides, fogging, getting rid of breeding sites around the home, and wearing of covering clothes. Keeping the house locked up in the evenings may reduce the numbers entering your homes.