Vaccines dwindle as yellow fever outbreak grows

About one in five individuals affected with yellow fever dies in as quickly as three weeks. The mosquito-borne illness reared its head in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, but has since been placated by vaccines. A recent yellow fever outbreak in Angola has burned through the emergency supply of vaccines set aside, and infectious disease specialists are beginning to worry more may not be made in time, according to an NPR report.

"The bottom line is that this is another example of an emerging infection that poses a threat that may not be limited to Africa," Tom Frieden, MD, director of the CDC, told NPR. "I'm worried that yellow fever could spread widely in Angola, and then spill over to the Democratic Republic of Congo, potentially Nigeria and other very populous areas in Africa."

The emergency vaccines have been used to vaccinate more than 5 million people in Angola since the outbreak began in January and health officials have turned to the supply set aside for childhood vaccinations.

The combined wallop of yellow fever and Zika virus have made it difficult for the CDC to lend a hand, and greater funding will be needed to get a handle on both outbreaks, Dr. Frieden told NPR.

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