After the past Fourth of July weekend, summer is felt in full bloom: BBQ get-togethers, summer vacations at exotic places, long lines outside Haagen-Dazs on a hot and humid day, the beautiful late-setting sun. And unfortunately, with the full bloom of summer comes the full bloom of mosquitoes. The daunting humming noise they make as they fly around waiting for the exact moment to strike at our epidermis and the grotesque, sleep-disrupting bumps that result from their blood-sucking activities are enough visuals to make anyone cringe.
While most mosquitoes are just annoying and not dangerous (thank goodness - otherwise we'd all be suffering from West Nile or some other scary disease), one type of mosquito to be aware of is the Aedes aegypti - or A. aegypti. These nuissances can be easily recognized by white markings on their legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on their thorax - not that ugly, right? Originating in Africa, they now inhabit various tropical and subtropical regions throughout South and Central America and Africa. Seems pretty harmless. So why do we care about them? They are commonly connotated with carrying the YELLOW FEVER VIRUS, an acute viral hemorrhagic disease.
Perusing the WebMD page for yellow fever may be a little worrying; descriptions of the disease include "damage to the liver, kidney, heart, and gastrointestinal tract" and major symptoms include "jaundice and hemorrhages". The Wikipedia article is even more intimidating: the symptoms list expands to include "fever, chills, anorexia, nausea, muscle pain (with prominent backache) and headache" with "no causative cure." The Wiki page then proceeds to throw descriptions like "positive sense single-stranded RNA is approximately 11,000 nucleotides long and has a single open reading frame" (translation: the viruses have single-stranded genetic material that are directly translated into proteins in a certain pattern after the genetic material enters the nucleus of the host cell; the resulting protein consists of about 3000 amino acids, which isn't huge for a protein); "viruses affect...
monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells... attach to the cell surface via specific receptors and are taken up by an endosomal vesicle" (translation: viruses attach to the surface of large white blood cells, foreign particle-engulfing cells, and immune system messenger cells at specific locations in order to insert their genetic material into the nucleus of the host cell); and "the viral genome is replicated in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and in the... vesicle packets" (translation: the protein that this 'scary' virus codes for is produced in the endoplasmic reticulum, an accordion-like structure that houses little round organelles called ribosomes, which translate the jumbled A's, C's, G's, and U's of RNA into proteins).
Seen in the translated light, the yellow fever virus isn't that bad. The best part? This disease is easily preventable through vaccination, which are available at designated vaccination centers (AND they'll give you proper verification paperwork). This preventative measure is highly advised for people 9 months through 59 years of age traveling to a location where the risk of yellow fever is known to exist. In addition to receiving the vaccine, the CDC also highly advises people in areas where the pesky A. aegypti are to take preventative to avoid mosquito bites.
If you're a traveler living in New York City and would like to take care of yellow fever vaccination, visit Travelclinicny.com to avoid painful symptoms during an exotic vacation. Log on to find out all the information you need, or simply dial 1-212-696-5900 to speak to a friendly staff member and arrange an appointment today. Located in midtown Manhattan, Walk In Clinic of New York is easily accessible by bus and subway.