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Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Advisor

Dr. Laura Witte

Abstract

Yellow fever was a significant public health threat to the United States prior to 1906. It killed hundreds of thousands, orphaned thousands, depopulated cities as inhabitants fled and became unwanted refugees. Resultant quarantines caused trade to collapse. The turning point in the fight against yellow fever occurred in 1901 when it was discovered that mosquitoes transmitted the disease. Mosquito control efforts quickly and dramatically reduced the incidence of yellow fever. The last yellow fever outbreak in the United States was in New Orleans in 1905. An effective and safe yellow fever vaccine discovered in 1937 further reduced the number of yellow fever cases world-wide. Yellow fever became a rare and neglected disease in the United States, but it remained a threat. This threat is increasing today due to vaccine shortage, reappearance of yellow fever in areas overseas where it had been eradicated, social disruption, mass movement of populations, and the speed and ease of international travel. The purpose of this article is to review yellow fever from the perspective of public health, to discuss the yellow fever vaccine, as well as probable response strategies against a yellow fever outbreak in the United States.

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