Watch and Prepare for Tropical Illness

January 16, 2017

The Western Hemisphere has a whole host of tropical illnesses cycling through countries and seasons—and yellow fever is starting another round. Right now it’s in Brazil, but the past few winters have shown a pattern where it will be pushing into the US by summer.

Yellow fever, Zika, Dengue Fever, and CHIK-V are all tropical viruses with a lot of similarities. Once they travel somewhere, they survive in pockets of mosquitoes until they come in contact with a human. The pockets might be remote, as was the case in Hawaii when a group of hiking tourists brought illness back out of the less-visited parts of nature and reignited a hard to beat battle against illnesses that thrive in warm, humid climates.

Once a human is bit and brings illness home, things can get worse a whole lot more quickly. Aedes aegypti, which has become famous for spreading Zika, can carry any tropical illness. But unlike those pockets of mosquitoes hanging out with birds and other wildlife in wet areas, Aedes aegypti has evolved to be “the dog of insects”, living in close contact with humans (right inside your home, in fact, rather than in your yard like the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus). That means that any illness, like yellow fever, can spread quickly, not just within a city, but to other cities as infected travelers (and stowaway Aedes aegypti in their luggage) travel back to hospitable climates.

And that’s what’s happening in Brazil right now. Yellow fever has moved into populated areas from nature and is spreading quickly, leading to suspicion that Aedes aegypti is carrying/spreading it. It will be a hard to win battle for Brazil.

While we watch and cheer them on, we should be preparing for another wave of tropical illness to hit the US this summer. It’s been a pretty mild winter (it’s been an El Nino year) and so pests like mosquitoes and ticks will be plentiful once things warm up. That means lots of opportunity for travelers to spread tropical illness!

You can prepare your home by working on the inside out. Make sure that under your bed, your walls, and other heavily used areas of your home are inhospitable with some non-toxic to human repellents. Tropical viruses shouldn’t eclipse that West Nile is still a concern, so keep still water out of your yard.

As always, all those basic health recommendations don’t just keep you healthy, they keep your immune system strong. For an extra boost, pick up some colloidal silver.

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