We live in a more connected world than ever before, both physically and digitally. At Summit Travel Health, we focus on the intersection of these two forces to help our patients travel safely and experience the beauty of foreign cultures and geographies. However, the proliferation of affordable transportation and this inherent connectedness has created new challenges, like the resurgence of mosquito borne-illnesses.
Most people are not familiar with the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but many travelers and medical professionals are beginning to take note. In 2016, this mosquito type helped carry the Zika Virus from some developed countries to Orlando, Florida, the ever-popular tourist hub. This created headlines all over the world, but this was not the first time that the Aedes aegypti mosquito had spread a dangerous virus.
Almost 220 years ago in the United States, this mosquito spread a deadly virus called Yellow Fever, creating a deadly epidemic. Many experts believe we are in the middle of a Yellow Fever resurgence, and it is more important than ever for adventurers and travellers to understand Yellow Fever and to take the proper medical steps to ensure they are not putting themselves at risk while visiting exotic destinations.
Understanding The Rise In Yellow Fever
Experts believe global warming and deforestation are two key factors that could be driving the resurgence of Yellow Fever. These two forces are pushing mosquitos into warmer, more populated areas, causing a vicious cycle that results in faster-spreading viruses and outbreaks.
It is imperative for travelers to seek travel health counsel to ensure that they understand any destination specifics risks on their itinerary. A medical professional trained in travel medicine will be able to help you understand preventative measures like the Yellow Fever vaccine, which in many cases can be a life-saving measure. A vaccination provides the best defense against contracting the illness that, if left untreated, can be fatal. Due to climate change, it is possible that this virus could crop up in virtually any tropical location, so it is always better for travelers to be prepared.
Mosquitos Spreading To Tropical Locations Like The Canary Islands
Although the Aedes aegypti mosquito originated in Africa, they have been spotted in a range of different tropical locations across the world, including the Canary Islands. Thousands of tourists head to this destination every year, and the hot climate makes it a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying the disease.
In 2017, regional health officials in the Canary Islands triggered an alarm concerning the spread of the disease on the island of Fuerteventura when reports came in of an outbreak. Yellow fever conditions can cause nasty symptoms including jaundice and vomiting and can spread quickly.
To combat this, officials were quick to respond and asked the public to send pictures of mosquitos that they thought could be carriers of the disease. The mosquitos are easy to spot due to the white markings on the leg as well as a spot in the shape of a lyre on the top of its body.
Yellow Fever In Brazil
In Brazil, cases of yellow fever have become alarmingly common and have only been growing since 2016. Thus far, there have been 464 confirmed cases in the country and 154 deaths. This is the worst case of Yellow Fever in the country in decades, and it has hit both Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paula particularly hard. This has created fears that ultimately the disease could spread north into the Southern United States.
Yellow Fever Outbreaks In Africa
Yellow Fever outbreaks in Africa have become alarmingly common. In 2016 the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in 30 years was witnessed in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With fears of the issue spreading to Western Africa, the International Coordinating Group provided 1.4 million vaccine doses to help control and reduce the outbreak of the disease in the country. At that point, there were already 276 suspected cases of the disease across fourteen states.
Working with the World Health Organization, African governments aimed to vaccinate 1.4 million people to combat the spread of the disease. Without the vaccination, the disease can become deadly quickly, and there is a low level of immunity in many parts of the country. The 1.4 million doses were the next step after previous attempts were made to help 840,000 individuals. Currently, the WHO is working to build long-term strategies and responses for the impact of outbreaks of the disease in Africa.