Yellow Fever. Is an Outbreak Possible in South Florida?

It’s been over one hundred years since the last yellow fever outbreak in the United States, the last one being in New Orleans in 1905. That was right after the US Military had created the Yellow Fever Commission and proven that the fever was spread by mosquitoes. This lead to fumigation and other protective practices that stopped future outbreaks in the US.

However, now that the presence of yellow fever has increased in Brazil, the possibilities of it making its way into the states is something South Florida residents need to consider. Not different from the Zika outbreak of 2016, the concern is travelers from Brazil and other parts of South and Central America could bring yellow fever to the US with them. Yellow fever is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that carries Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. In South Florida and all the way up the coast to Jacksonville, we have the mosquitoes and the climate to foster a yellow fever outbreak.

What is Yellow Fever?

While Zika was feared mostly due to the birth defects it could create in children born to women with the virus, yellow fever can be quite deadly. It’s true that most people that contract yellow fever might barely feel the symptoms and if they do – fever, chills, headache – they aren’t likely to recognize it as more than a cold or mild flu. However, there is a percentage, about 15, that will get truly sick. The same fever and chills will be extreme, leading to internal bleeding, jaundice, and eventually liver and organ failure. Approximately half of those people will die and quickly… within a week or two.

What are the Chances?

The same kind of outbreak that came with Zika is not expected, but yellow fever can and most likely will make it here. The hope is that the prevention level that was stepped up in 2016 due to Zika will help to keep any instances of yellow fever to a minimum. The rainy season in Florida runs May to October. To prevent an outbreak, Broward County begins it’s misting cycle right before the wet season. The type of mosquitoes that can carry yellow fever like urban areas and can breed in very small amounts of water, as small as a cap full. So the early mist is meant to target the larvae mosquitoes instead of waiting until they become adults.

The CDC has recommended that travelers to Brazil get vaccinated before they go.*

There is no required vaccination here and actually a shortage. The World Health Organization has reported that Miami could be very susceptible to the spread of yellow fever, as so many travelers enter the country there. One infected person could get bitten by a mosquito and then the spread begins. That is why at Mosquito Squad of Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra we remind you that continued diligence is so important when it comes to keeping the mosquito population as low as we possibly can. The 7Ts of mosquito control help all of us keep down growth in our own yards.

Our barrier treatment treatments are also a great way to keep mosquitoes out of your own yard and therefore the chance of catching any mosquito-borne illness stays very low. Let us be the largest part of your mosquito protection so that you have time to worry about more important things this summer, like BBQs and pool parties. Call us today.