When you think of yellow fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses, you likely associate them with distant tropical regions, not the United States.
Historically, these diseases have been more prevalent in Africa and South America, but a concerning trend is emerging.
Recent cases of mosquito-transmitted infections in the US are on the rise, leading experts to worry about the potential resurgence of yellow fever.
In June, for the first time in two decades, malaria was detected in the US, sending a warning signal.
More recently, California reported its first locally acquired case of the dengue virus.
The Baylor College of Medicine has expressed concern about increasing mosquito-transmitted virus infections, particularly in the Southern states, which could set the stage for a yellow fever comeback.
Climate change significantly contributes to the uptick in mosquito-borne diseases in the US As temperatures rise, these disease-carrying insects thrive in the warm, wet weather.
Dr. Sarah Park, medical director at Karius, explains, “Mosquitos love warm, wet weather,” making the US increasingly vulnerable.
While yellow fever can be deadly, advancements in modern medicine and a readily available vaccine have significantly reduced its mortality rate.
The yellow fever vaccine has been known for 80 years.
Still, it is not part of standard immunizations in the US It is primarily administered to individuals traveling to areas with active yellow fever cases, such as Africa or South America.
Despite the relative safety, there is still cause for concern.
Dr. Linda Yancey, an infectious disease specialist, notes that other mosquito-borne diseases, like malaria and dengue fever, are making a resurgence in the US.
This resurgence raises the possibility of yellow fever returning as well.
Protecting Against Mosquito-Borne Threats in the US
Historically, outbreaks are most likely to occur in the Southern states, especially in port cities like New Orleans, Galveston, and along the Mississippi River.
However, the spread of mosquito-borne diseases is limited in the US due to indoor living with air conditioning and the absence of native nonhuman primate populations, which serve as hosts for the disease.
To protect yourself, getting the yellow fever vaccine when traveling to at-risk regions is essential.
Additionally, you can use mosquito repellents, such as Deet, picaridin, or permethrin, to prevent mosquito bites.
Treating clothing with permethrin is a particularly effective strategy, as it can last through multiple wash cycles.
Wearing loose-fitting, long-sleeved clothing, using mosquito nets when possible, staying in air-conditioned spaces, and staying informed by checking the CDC or WHO websites for updates on yellow fever risk in your intended destination are all proactive measures.
Familiarizing yourself with the symptoms of yellow fever, which may initially present as fever, chills, and severe headaches, is also crucial.
While the re-emergence of yellow fever in the US is a concern, it remains relatively rare.
Still, experts stress the importance of staying vigilant, protecting yourself from mosquito bites, and getting vaccinated when necessary.
Dr. Yancey notes, “Yellow fever is very uncommon in the U.S., but other vaccine-preventable viruses are.”
Being informed and proactive is the key to safeguarding public health against these potential threats.
Source: Yahoo News