The Reemergence of Yellow Fever

The Reemergence of Yellow Fever

Since 2016, yellow fever outbreaks have become a major public health concern

Science, 2018

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  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Overview


Asia experienced its first cases of yellow fever in 2016, when 11 workers carried the virus home with them from Angola. Those cases were contained, but this wasn’t the first time yellow fever has piggybacked on unsuspecting travelers, and it won’t be the last. Alan D. T. Barrett, Director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center for Vaccine Research, provides a brief look at the recent outbreaks and the advanced modeling techniques that might quell future epidemics. This Science magazine article will prove useful to health care workers and policymakers, and even people unfamiliar with virology.


Yellow fever kills up to 50% of the people who contract it, though an effective vaccine exists.

Related to the dengue and Zika virus, yellow fever is contracted by both human and non-human primates, and is spread by mosquitoes. Human cases occur most often in forested areas. Urban yellow fever is transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and is the most dangerous form for humans.

In 2016, urban yellow fever outbreaks struck Angola, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but were contained by September of that year. Chinese workers in Angola took the virus back to China, constituting the first ever cases...

About the Author

Alan D. T. Barrett is a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He is the director of the Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences.

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