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Yellow Fever: Man against Mosquito

The story of yellow fever with American writer Molly Crosby, University of Virginia historian Christian McMillen, Dr. Nick Beeching from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Outbreaks of yellow fever, such as the notorious 1878 'American plague' which swept through Memphis, Tennessee, used to kill thousands in a matter of weeks. So why was it so devastating? How did we manage to tame it in some parts of the world? And why does yellow fever still present a danger today for nearly a billion people living in tropical parts of Latin America and Africa?

Bridget Kendall discusses the history and the future of yellow fever with American writer and journalist Molly Crosby, author of The American Plague;

history professor from the University of Virginia, Christian McMillen who has a special interest in past and present epidemics;

and Dr. Nick Beeching who teaches clinical infectious diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Photo: Yellow Fever Virus (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library)

Available now

41 minutes

Last on

Tue 28 Feb 2017 23:06GMT

A poem by Forum listener Catherine Diamond inspired by the programme


The Mosquito’s Kiss


Why do mosquitoes announce

their arrival with a whine

giving us half a chance to slap them down

when by stealth,

they could do so much more harm?


I think it’s pride

that declares them so,

telling us before they bite:

‘No one on this earth needs you

no one even wants you,

not even us who enjoy

the exquisite feast

your vast expanse of skin provides.’


And so they taunt us

daring us to find them

and when we can,

the successful Smack!

leaves not only insect smashed

but our own red red blood

smeared across our hand,

and we, not knowing whether

Mother Mosquito’s parting gift is

malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis or dengue,

or like John Donne’s bawdy flea

our most intimate loving link.