Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus, which is spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito, same as Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses.

The outbreak of this serious viral illness, where about 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and death, continues in the south African country of Angola despite the mass vaccination of some 8 million people.


According to the latest data from Angola, a cumulative total of 2,267 suspected cases with 293 deaths have been reported, of which 696 were confirmed cases including 93 confirmed deaths.

A new province (Namibe) and five (5) new districts (Kissama, Bailombo, Bailundo, Ukuma and Namibe) are added to list of districts with local transmission.

Sixty nine (69) districts have laboratory confirmed cases in 14 out of the 18 provinces in the country.

The total number of people vaccinated in the three provinces as of 8 May is 91% (7,735,714). Breakdown is as follows: Luanda 6,035,214 (92%), Huambo 780,961 (82%) and Benguela 919,539(88%).

Angola will receive 2,434,900 doses of yellow fever vaccine on 12 May 2016 from the Institute Pasteur Dakar and Sanofi (France).

A number of countries have reported imported yellow fever due to this outbreak (China, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Kenya) and local transmission has been reported i RC and Uganda.

On Monday, Georgetown University researchers called on global health authorities to convene an emergency committee and a possible declaration of a public health emergency of international concern, in a JAMA article.

They write: There are strong reasons to convene an emergency committee now. The looming threat of a severe yellow fever vaccine shortage exists amid epidemics in Africa, and potentially in Latin America and Asia (which has never seen a yellow fever epidemic).

Prior delays by the WHO in convening emergency committees for the Ebola virus, and possibly the ongoing Zika epidemic, cost lives and should not be repeated. Acting proactively to address the evolving yellow fever epidemic is imperative.

The last time the US saw a yellow fever epidemic was in New Orleans in 1905. We have the mosquito vector, so, could yellow fever return to the United States?

LISTEN: The history of yellow fever in the US: An interview with writer and author, Bob Arnebeck

In 2013, Drs. Peter Hotez and Kristy Murray from Baylor College of Medicine wrote in PLoS Blogs that there are a few red flags suggesting the possibility that yellow fever could return to the US.

Besides the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, particularly in the south, poverty and globalization put us at risk.

“We need to seriously evaluate the risks of the major southern cities of the US, including Houston, but also New Orleans, Tampa, and Miami for their vulnerability to Aedes-transmitted arbovirus infections, such as yellow fever, the authors write.

“While we are aware that US urban areas may not be as vulnerable to yellow fever as Memphis was more than a century ago, there is still an important risk that needs to be considered as part of our national emergency preparedness, particularly in light of an emerging dengue problem (i.e., another Ae. Aegypti mosquito transmitted virus infection) in Houston and other southern coastal US areas.”


Aedes mosquito
Aedes aegypti image/CDC