Yellow fever – Brazil

Between July 2021 and mid-April 2022, 485 suspected human cases of yellow fever were reported, of which 4 (0.8%) were confirmed in Brazil.

Transmission of the virus between non-human primates (NHP) was recorded in Pará, Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, signaling the active circulation of the virus in these states and the increased risk of transmission to human populations during the seasonal period, which runs from December to May. The confirmed human cases had a probable site of infection in Pará (municipalities of Afuá and Oeiras do Pará) and in Tocantins (municipality of São Salvador do Tocantins).

Photo: Electron micro-graph of Yellow Fever Virus.

Yellow fever is a viral disease, of typically short duration, caused by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Only humans and primates can catch the disease. In most cases infection will be accompanied by fever, chills and loss of appetite. Muscle pains and headaches are also typical symptoms that improve within 5 days.

In about 15% of people, within a day of improving the fever comes back, abdominal pain occurs, and liver damage begins causing yellow skin. Death occurs in up to half of those who get severe disease.

A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever exists, and some countries require vaccinations for travelers.

The disease originated in Africa and spread to South America in the 17th century with the Spanish and Portuguese importation of enslaved Africans from sub-Saharan Africa. Since the 17th century, several major outbreaks of the disease have occurred in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. In the 18th and 19th centuries, yellow fever was considered one of the most dangerous infectious diseases.

In 1927, yellow fever virus was the first human virus to be isolated.

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