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Yellow Fever

By Randi Turner

From the Faculty Nominator, Birthe Kjellerup:

Randi Turner wrote "Yellow Fever" for Bio354 (Microbiology and Immunology). The assignment was to a review a human disease caused by a microorganism (bacteria, fungi or virus) or an important environmental problem caused (or solved) by microorganisms. Randi chose to focus on Yellow Fever, how the disease was first discovered and made its way from the Caribbean to the continental USA in the late 1600s. Yellow Fever is caused by a virus and it took the scientists a lot of effort and determination to identify the causative agent and the transmission routes in the population. The significant sacrifices made by the scientists including the ultimate one: using themselves as research objects made it clear that the disease was being transmitted by mosquitos. Randi chose a very exiting topic not only addressing how a specific disease has been perceived throughout time, its discovery and the current lack of an efficient vaccine. The paper raises questions related to the increasing number of eco-tourists traveling to areas, where Yellow Fever is common as well as the influence from the increasing temperatures due to Global Warming. Her paper truly gives us a new understanding and appreciation of viruses as disease causing agents and the continued importance of Yellow Fever due to increased travel and climate change.

From the author, Randi Turner:

Yellow fever is a hemorrhagic fever caused by the yellow fever virus, a positive-sense RNA virus belonging to the genus Flavivirus. The virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, particularly A. aegypti, which reside largely in tropical cities of South America and Africa. Once the mosquito feeds on an infected person and becomes infective, it can transmit the virus for the remainder of its life and even pass it onto its larvae. Yellow fever originated in Africa, but was brought to the Americas during the Slave Trade. With no natural immunity in the American population, the virus ravaged the continents for many years. North America has not experienced an outbreak since 1905, but South America and Africa continue to have regular outbreaks despite widespread prevention and vaccination efforts. Written for Dr. Kjellerup's Microbiology and Immunology course, this review paper assembles from various source with special emphasis on the historical aspect taken from Irwin Sherman's 2007 book: Twelve Diseases that Changed Our World.


 

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