A2: Microbes in the News

Is Yellow Fever Knocking At Our Door?



Over the past three decades scientists have noticed three major diseases following the same pattern of spreading: they spread slowly through less populated areas until one day one person in an urban city gets the disease and then it spreads like wildfire. Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are all viruses that emerged and spread rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean, and they have all had several small outbreaks in the US. Scientists are now worried that a fourth virus is following that pattern: yellow fever. Moving quickly from clusters to full on outbreaks in Brazil, yellow fever has killed more than 200 people since the outbreaks started in December, and due to the lag between labs receiving samples and then confirming the cause of death, there have most likely been many more. Scientists are worried that the disease will soon spread from the rural, forested area its currently overtaking. The disease is transmitted through a species of mosquitoes that only lives in the forest, however, there is a danger that mosquitoes that thrive in cities could pick the disease up from infected people. This relates again to what we’ve recently been discussing in class (I actually chose two of my articles based on the fact that I’m really intrigued by modeling the spread of disease). Learning as much as possible about the “behavior” of this virus is so important to the development of preventative measures. Scientists are aware of a general pattern that yellow fever may end up following, and are preparing for what may come of if that happens. I think that this article was written in such a way that the information is very accessible ┬áto the general public. Not only was the current issue put into context by citing other similar outbreaks such as Zika, but the writing was not geared towards only the scientific community. Reading articles like this one brings up the question of why are mosquitoes such prime vectors of disease instead of other insects that also bite?