In about 15% of cases, however, the disease causes severe abdominal pain, jaundice and the infected bleed internally and from their eyes, mouth and nose.
About half of these people die.
IT 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 yellow fever 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 now 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, around 2,300 suspected cases have been reported there, with nearly 300 deaths. Set against 80,000 deaths, this may 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.