More Mosquito Menace



The Americas are already fighting or getting ready to fight the Zika epidemic. This is only one of several mosquito vectored diseases currently spreading around the world. In Angola, Yellow Fever, a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes is gathering attention. Yellow fever originated in Africa and spread to the Americas where it established in the 1500s. A US commission linked the transmission of yellow fever to Aedes mosquitoes in the late 1800s, paving the way for effective yellow fever control. The last large outbreak of yellow fever in the US was 1905. In 1936, a vaccination ended much of the yellow fever threat.

A yellow fever outbreak has been developing in Angola. Since December of 2015, over 1700 cases of yellow fever have been confirmed and with over 230 deaths, a rate of 13%. The outbreak has spread to Kenya, DRC and China. Angola has many guest workers who may not be vaccinated. The return home of infected guest workers from China creates worries about spread of Yellow Fever to Asia. China has not reported Yellow Fever epidemics in the past, which may mean the population has a high level of susceptibility.  Competent Aedes vectors are present, vaccination rates are low leading to a possibility of spread. The World Health Organization is supporting widespread vaccination in Angola to halt the epidemic, a measure that may deplete stocks of vaccines which would be needed if the epidemic spread. There are no current travel restrictions to Angola, but travelers should consider vaccination and as always, use repellents and other methods to avoid bites.

Increases in world trade and travel have led to inadvertent transport of many species beyond their native range where they can become invasive. This includes disease organisms that can pose serious threats to health. Disease prevention may be expensive but it is not as costly as the effects of treating the diseases and their long term effects.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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