Two U.S. medical professionals are calling for worldwide action to stem a growing epidemic of yellow fever.
An epidemic of yellow fever, first reported in January, has been spreading rapidly in Angola, according to the two physicians, adding that as of last month, the country had 2,023 suspected yellow fever cases and 258 deaths. The Pan American Health Organization has declared an epidemiological alert on April 22 for yellow fever in Latin America.
For expats and Costa Ricans there is no real emergency yet, but the same mosquito that carries malaria, dengue and now the zika virus also carries the yellow fever virus.
The two physicians are associated with the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. They are Daniel Lucey and Lawrence O. Gostin. They published a viewpoint article that appeared Monday in the JAMA journal.
Costa Rica immigration officials require proof of vaccination against yellow fever from travelers arriving from some African and South American countries. That rule does not apply to travelers from the United States.
Costa Rica also is facing an influx of illegal migrants from
Africa. Many have been detained and placed in lockups. There are many others at the southern border.
Yellow fever also is known to use non-human hosts, such as monkeys. There is no treatment for yellow fever, just prevention.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there is no risk of yellow fever in Costa Rica, although wise expats usually have received vaccinations, which are long-lasting. The same protection techniques that prevents zika and dengue infections also are successful with yellow fever. That includes using mosquito repellent.
Costa Rican health officials have an extensive program of spraying and destruction of mosquito breeding places in vulnerable areas.
One problem cited by the World Health Organization is a shortage of vaccines to fight the epidemic in Africa. However, the vaccine is available in Costa Rica, and even some pharmacies associated with the Mas x Menos supermarket chain advertise the availability.
The two Georgetown University physicians want World Health to convene an emergency committee to mobilize funds, coordinate an international response, and spearhead a surge in vaccine production, the university said in summary of the article.