Why Mosquitoes Trump Birds

Worried about avian flu? Never mind. What about yellow fever?

Jack Woodall
Jan 1, 2006

As I write this, the media has been hammering away every day at the latest "confirmed cases" and rumors about avian flu, H5N1. Then there are the blogs that see every unexplained death anywhere in the world as a probable case of a virus that might, just might, one day mutate enough to be able to pass from human to human, killing us with frightening efficiency. Well, there's a virus that has already mutated to pass from human to human, and it kills around half its victims. It causes yellow fever, and all it needs is a certain mosquito to achieve that.

The mosquito's name is Aedes aegypti. Fortunately for half the world, it thrives only in the humid tropics and subtropics (Texas, for example), but that means that many who are headed out to warmer climes to escape rigors of the northern winter are at risk of exposure...