Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is an acute group B virus disease of short duration transmitted to humans by different genera of mosquitoes, but especially by the Aedes aegypti (known previously as the Stegomyia fasciata). It remains endemic in the tropical regions of Africa and the Americas in a sylvan or jungle form, but historically its greatest impact on humans has been in an epidemic or urban form. The disease can appear with symptoms ranging from extremely mild to malignant; in classic cases it is characterized by fever, headache, jaundice, albuminuria (high-protein content in the urine), and hemorrhage into the stomach and intestinal tract. High mortality rates were frequently recorded during epidemics (20 to 70 percent), although today we know that yellow fever mortality is actually relatively low, suggesting of course that the majority of the cases were mild and went undiagnosed. The jaundice has prompted the appellation yellow fever, and other designations such as the mal de Siam, fièvre jaune, gelbfieber, and virus amaril, whereas the hemorrhaging of black blood led to the name "black vomit" or vomito negro.

Known early in the New World as the "Barbados distemper," "bleeding fever," the "maladie de Siam," "el peste" vomito negro, and later yellow jack (because of the yellow quarantine flag flown by ships), the disease has been called by some 150 names. It was first termed "yellow fever" apparently by Griffin Hughes in his Natural History of Barbados (1750).

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