A study to be published by the World Health Organization revealed that Miami is at risk of a deadly yellow fever outbreak because the disease could thrive there and the city has no checks on travelers arriving from endemic zones.
The study, “International travel and the urban spread of yellow fever,” found that almost 2.8 million people arrived in the United States from endemic yellow fever areas in 2016.
Yellow fever is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Unlike some countries, the U.S. does not require travelers from those areas to show proof of vaccinations against the disease, which is spread by the same species of mosquito that causes the Zika virus, Reuters reported.
“At a time when global yellow fever vaccine supplies are diminished, an epidemic in a densely populated city could have substantial health and economic consequences,” wrote the study researchers.
The researchers also estimated that approximately 9.5 million people live in U.S. urban areas such as Miami that are ecologically suitable for an outbreak. They also contended that the risk of yellow fever has been increased globally due to climate change, mobility, urbanization and a vaccine shortage, and recommended a review of vaccination policies.
The researchers noted that a substantial proportion of the global stock of yellow fever vaccine was depleted by recent epidemics in Africa and Brazil, and by manufacturing challenges.
“Should another urban epidemic occur in the near future, vaccine demand could easily exceed the available supply,” they wrote.
The symptoms of yellow fever, which can be difficult to diagnose, include muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. Approximately 15 percent of cases proceed to a more toxic phase within 24 hours, potentially causing jaundice, abdominal pain, deteriorating kidney function and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach.
According to the World Heath Organization, half of those who suffer severe cases of yellow fever die within two weeks, but the rest recover without significant organ damage.
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