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Monday, September 27, 2010

YELLOW FEVER

I found it gratifying that since I inserted a new Flag Count widget yesterday, 17 countries have visited at the time of this writing.  That's the box at the top right.

If you ever plan on going to Africa or South America, read this.  While the incidence of death from Yellow Fever is less than 10%, keep in mind that just before 1800, ten percent of Philadelphians died from this disease, with half of the population leaving the city during this epidemic, including George Washington and his administration.  Congress did not meet in D.C. until 1800. 

The female aedes aegypti mosquito (above) donates the Yellow Fever virus to you.  This mosquito also is good for dengue and chikungunya (my Le Reunion experience!!).  The tiger mosquito (below) also can be a problem, especially in the open range.  I've had my blood extracted from this predator in Hawaii.   

Once you contract Yellow Fever, there is no cure, as such.  Don't take aspirin, for example, which can induce internal bleeding for some.  It's a roll of the dice as to how your body will react.

I write about this because I yesterday learned that I needed to take a Yellow Fever vaccination before I left for my next trip, which is tomorrow morning.  The first call I made to the Queen's Hospital Travel Clinic (they are the only ones in the state) this morning stunned me.  They are out of this vaccine.  However, they have a branch hospital in Hawaii Kai, gave me a number and wished me luck.  Turns out that Queen's Hawaii Kai had two left, but were reluctant to give me access because of previous commitments.  Hearing of my plight, thank heavens, they agreed to have me come in this afternoon.  I guess they will also be able to prescribe malaria pills.  Mind you, this injection might hurt and there could be mild flu symptoms, but the potential downside makes this pain and suffering tolerable, even necessary.  Now I only need to worry about those tse-tse flies in Tanzania and Kenya.

The good news is that the last major outbreak of Yellow Fever in the U.S. was a century ago, in New Orleans.  Some of you historians might recall Walter Reed (that DC military hospital is named after him, although he personally credited Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay for suggesting this vector), and how he proposed the mosquito as the culprit, and given credit for completion of the Panama Canal in 1914.  In 1927, Max Theiler of the Rockefeller Institute isolated the virus using chicken eggs, leading to a vaccine, and much later, in 1951, a Nobel Prize.

Well, anyway, while the Big C, cancer, is credited with 8 million deaths every year, Malaria kills up to two million annually, AIDS also 2 million and traffic about a million, so the 30,000 deaths from Yellow Fever are relatively small.  Take precautions, but don't lose too much sleep over this ailment.  Hmm...better get those malaria pills.

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The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 48 to 10,812, while world markets were also mostly down, except for Asia.  Gold reached $1300/toz today, but settled at $1295, while crude oil rests at $76/barrel.

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No storm worthy of mention, except there is that disturbance east of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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