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Understanding Yellow Fever

A research team – led by scientists at Oxford University – has made a discovery using genome sequencing that could ‘control future outbreaks’ of Yellow Fever.

On the back of the deadly 2016 outbreak in Brazil, the worst in more than a century, the Oxford scientists, along with their collaboration partners from FIOCRUZ Rio de Janeiro, employed ‘modern genomic and epidemiology techniques’ to better understand the ‘transmission of South America’s largest yellow fever virus outbreak in recent history. The study shows the ‘virus lineage had spread through a sylvatic (forest) cycle of transmission in primates, which grew unnoticed during 2016, before spilling over into human populations in early 2017’.


“Yellow Fever virus has affected humanity for hundreds of years. It comes in waves from an animal reservoir, so we may never completely eliminate it. The problem is that we don’t understand enough yet about the complex behaviour of the virus in animal populations. We need this information to control future outbreaks – to vaccinate the right people, in the right place, at the right time,” said Professor Oliver Pybus, Professor of Evolution & Infectious Disease in Oxford’s Department of Zoology.


The new research on Yellow Fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, was published in the Science journal.

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