The flavivirus family derives its name from one of the greatest
history, yellow fever ("flavi"= yellow in Latin). The yellow fever
epidemic started hundreds of years ago when the virus and its vector, a
mosquito known as Aedes aegypti, were transported to the New World
the water casks of
slave ships from West Africa. Yellow fever virus spread quickly throughout
North and South America and killed thousands during the construction of
the Panama canal. An American army doctor named Walter Reed solved the
mystery of how the fatal "yellow jack" disease was transmitted. Reed
a filterable agent in the blood of yellow fever patients and
discovered arbo-transmission. Yellow fever was the first human virus
to be isolated and classified as a virus.
to eradicate yellow fever have drastically reduced its incidence, although
it still remains common in endemic regions of West Africa.
After the introduction of sensitive blood screening assays in the
1970s, doctors believed posttransfusion hepatitis would be eliminated.
Cases of non-A, non-B hepatitis kept popping up and the cause remained
unknown until Hepatitis C was identified by Bradley and colleagues in