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Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a serious infectious disease that occurs in the tropical parts of America and Africa. The name comes from the yellowing of the skin that is a feature of the disease. It has been a plague to mankind through the ages, and has caused millions of deaths.

In the early 1960s an epidemic in Ethiopia affected over 100,000 people and caused 30,000 deaths. In Brazil in 1971, 21,000 people were infected. The first attempt to cut the Panama Canal was abandoned after thousands had died from yellow fever.

The death rate for people who get yellow fever varies from 5 to 40 per cent, depending on how severe the attack is.

Those who recover are immune for life. There is no specific treatment, but vaccination confers protection for at least 10 years.