Yellow Fever occupies a strange place on the spectrum of infectious tropical diseases. Not as important as malaria. Not as terrifying as Ebola. Not as revolting as elephantiasis. Yet it is a grave illness, incurable once contracted. It kills 80,000 Africans a year. And that is a scandal, both because it can be prevented by a single inoculation and also because yellow fever risks spreading to Asia, where it has never before taken hold.
This is the background to the latest epidemic of the disease, in Angola. Since December, nearly 300 deaths from yellow fever have been reported there, as well as 2,000 suspected cases that were not fatal. Set against 80,000 deaths, this might not sound like many but experience suggests that, for each case brought to the authorities’ attention in a country where health care is as fragmentary as it is in Angola, between 50 and 500 probably go unreported. READ MORE