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The American Plague - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date The American Plague: Facts. Yellow Fever, also called the ‘The American Plague,’ decimated the population of Philadelphia in 1793. Philadelphia was then the Nation’s capital. The epidemic killed five thousand out of a population of forty-five thousand, and resulted in a large-scale evacuation of the city (Harvard University Library, 2012)…
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The American Plague
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Download file to see previous pages Contrary to the popular perception that it belongs exclusively to the African continent, Yellow Fever is reemerging in contemporary times. Yellow Fever is a dangerous viral disease which can be fatal. An understanding of the disease’s history, causes, types, symptoms, treatment and fatality, can raise awareness about Yellow Fever and help in its prevention. Yellow Fever originated in Africa, and spread to South America, through the slave trade in the sixteenth century. Epidemics continued to plague Europe, South America, and the coastal cities of America, such as New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and New Orleans, in the following three centuries, making it one of the most dangerous infectious diseases of the nineteenth century (Nordqvist, 2009) Yellow Fever is caused by the Flavivirus which is endemic to African arboreal monkeys. Mosquitoes serve as the primary vector for this virus. Several different species of the Aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes, found in the tropical and subtropical parts of South America, parts of the Caribbean, and Africa, transmit the virus from one host to another: between monkeys, between humans, and from monkeys to humans. Mosquitoes, primates and humans are the only known hosts of the flavivirus (WHO, 2012). Yellow Fever is of three types, depending on the transmission cycle. Sylvatic, or Jungle Yellow Fever, is transmitted by jungle mosquitoes, and is largely confined to monkeys. Occasionally, it is transmitted to humans, such as loggers, who enter the jungle, and is then carried by them to urban areas. Intermediate Yellow Fever is caused by semi-domestic mosquitoes, which breed both in the jungle and round houses. This results in the transmission of the virus to both monkeys and humans, and is the most common type. Urban Yellow Fever occurs in densely populated areas when the mosquitoes bite infected humans and transmit the virus to other humans (WHO, 2012). The symptoms of Yellow Fever occur in three stages. The virus incubates in the body of the host for three to six days, after which symptoms set in. In stage 1, the infection takes hold. This stage is characterized by headache, muscle and joint aches, shivers, fever, flushing, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Jaundice, in which there is evident yellowing of the skin and eyes, is common, and gives the disease its name. Symptoms often go away briefly after about 3-4 days, when the remission stage sets in. The majority of those affected recovers after this stage, and acquire immunity to reinfection. However, about 15% of those infected enter the third stage, which is the toxic stage. This stage is characterized by high fever and heart, liver and kidney failure. Hemorrhages of the mouth, nose, eyes and stomach can occur, leading to blood in the vomit and faeces. Seizures, coma, and delirium are other symptoms. Approximately half the patients, who enter this stage, die of the disease (WHO, 2012). The danger of Yellow Fever is compounded by the fact that there is no treatment except supportive care. There is no cure for the disease. About fifty percent of severely affected individuals die of Yellow Fever. Treatment is directed towards making the patient comfortable, and reducing the symptoms. Fever, and other associated bacterial infections, are treated with antibiotics; blood transfusion is given to compensate for blood loss due to hemorrhage; intravenous fluids are used to treat dehydration, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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