Not Ebola. This is a disease that has been around much longer and is, in some ways, deadlier.
I’m talking about Yellow Fever. The deadly virus typically kills about 20% of those it infects—far lower than Ebola. But it spreads much more rapidly, through local mosquitos, so the number of infected is much higher.
The outbreak in Africa began in Angola. It has since spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Kenya.
Even worse, it’s already hopped continents with nearly a dozen cases showing up in China.
On the upside there is a vaccine against Yellow Fever. But the global stockpiles of the vaccine are far too low to deal with the disease if it reaches pandemic status, which is what health organizations fear will happen.
The last outbreak of this size was more than 30 years ago. It took health officials six years to get in front of the outbreak and thousands of people died. This time around, since the virus has already shown up in China, there’s concern that it will reach Europe and even the United States.
Your best defense against Yellow Fever (and against the Zika virus) is to protect yourself from mosquitos.
Here are a few tips that can keep you and your family from picking up nasty and dangerous mosquito-borne viruses like Yellow Fever, Zika, and West Nile:
- Remove standing water from your yard and from your neighborhood—standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitos.
- Install a bat box in your yard and encourage your neighbors to do the same—bats are a mosquito’s natural predator and they are very effective hunters.
- Avoid spending time outdoors during peak mosquito hours—dawn and dusk.
- Wear bug spray when you are out and the mosquitos are biting.
- If you’re hanging out on the back deck, use bug lamps and mosquito-repellant coils to keep these nasty critters away.
Mosquito bites are never pleasant, but preventing bites has become more important with these recent global outbreaks.
The Save the Children charity is worried this is going to get pretty bad—see what they have to say.