The Cause of the Yellow Fever

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Sunshine it may seem but yellow for once had been a scary colour, for in the past it sent people running away from their homes while fire still burning in their chimneys and with doors unlocked in fear. Because who would not when someone turned frighteningly yellow, and, who would not be alarmed when numerous people around went sick for undetermined reasons.

It was 3000 B.C when the disease was first spotted in the remote place of Africa, which sooner spread in the American continent in 1680s and consequently to the neighbouring places in the Europe. At that time, the misconception regarding the cause of the yellow fever and its means of transmission was present, until that day of August in 1900, when James Caroll an army physician allowed the Aedes aegypti to feed on him to seek for answers. Through which, it was confirmed that mosquitos where the carrier of the virus across the globe, hence, precautionary measures were done, instead of setting houses on fire to purify the air and to kill the virus.

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Having that knowledge, formulating vaccine was soon became the main objective, and as 1930s arrived two vaccines was immediately identified; the 17D Vaccine and French Neurotropic Vaccine (FNV). The prior was developed by South African microbiologist Max Theiler and the latter was formulated by the French team. However, the FNV was sooner banned for numerous cases of encephalitis were consequently recorded, however, the 17D vaccine efficiently worked and combat the yellow fever epidemic. With that, Max Theiler’s discovery was instantly celebrated, but, what was really behind that?

The journey started upon knowing that an Indian rhesus monkey could be also infected by yellow fever. Given that it can be used for scientific research, extraction of the initial strain was afterward done and was named Asibi strain. However, because of its value, searched for less expensive experimental animal happened, and they found out that white mice could be utilized instead. The usage of mice in the research as observed by Theiler led to the alteration of the pathogenic action of the virus in two ways. First, the incubation period became progressively shortened. Second, the virulence in the rhesus monkey diminished when inoculated parenterally. That gave him the possibility of using an attenuated active virus in the vaccine, while the mice could be an instrument in quantitative estimation of the virus.

With that, mouse-adapted virus was soon developed and eventually put into trials. However, severe reactions of central nervous system were seen, so, further investigations were done, until, a safe method of vaccination was introduced by Pelteir in 1939. He and his team suggested the application of the vaccine to the scarified skin, and as a result, vaccinia virus was combined in the immunization against the yellow fever.

Hence, at the present time, despite that cases of yellow fever was still recorded, the world must not worry like how the past freaked out and fled away because Max Theiler have done a great job worthy of a Nobel prize, yet, gone are the days of massive yellow attack.   

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