For Mississippi doctor, yellow fever is still a hot topic

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Mention “yellow fever” and you typically conjure up thoughts of colonial America and a time when medicine was a poor combatant against most disease.

But yellow fever has been making a comeback in pockets of the globe, according to state Board of Health member Dr. Luke Lampton, whose study of the disease has made it into the 2018 edition of Conn’s Current Therapy, a leading family medicine textbook.

Fortunately, Lampton said, modern medicine is a more worthy adversary of the disease. When vaccination is provided, it’s effective in 99 percent of those immunized.


Dr. Lucius M. “Luke” Lampton, member of the State Board of Health and a family physician in Magnolia

“Yellow fever for most Mississippians is and probably will always remain a long-ago disease which caused deadly epidemics in our state prior to 1905,” Lampton said. “However, recent and ongoing yellow fever outbreaks in Africa and Brazil since 2015, in which the disease has jumped from the jungle to the urban setting, indicate that it is a reemerging disease worthy of our attention, just like dengue and Zika.”

Lampton said the outbreaks are the result of lax mosquito control and poor immunization efforts in the endemic areas, meaning unvaccinated people who travel to those areas are at risk. While this means outbreaks in Mississippi are possible, Lampton stressed that they’re unlikely.

“Medical professionals in our state and country should anticipate travel-related cases of yellow fever, and there remains the theoretic possibility of brief episodes of local dissemination in areas bordering the Gulf of Mexico, where the vector, Aedes aegypti mosquito, can be found. This remains highly unlikely, but the public health community should maintain heightened awareness of the disease in light of its ongoing resurgence.”

Lampton has been on the Board of Health since 2006 and served as board chairman from 2007 to 2017. He’s also an associate professor of Family and Community Medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, an instructor in Family Medicine at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Hattiesburg.

“The Mississippi State Department of Health is very fortunate to have someone as talented and dedicated to health and the progress of medicine in the state as Dr. Lampton,” said Dr. Mary Currier, state health officer, in a press release. “His long-time efforts as a board member and chairman for many years speaks to his dedication to serve and better the people of Mississippi,” she added.

Other members of the Board of Health have also received recent accolades. Dr. Thad Waites, the current board vice chairman and a cardiologist in Hattiesburg, has been named a Master of the American College of Cardiology by the American College of Cardiology.

Dr. Dwalia S. South of Ripley has been reappointed as Chair of the Committee on Publications for the Mississippi State Medical Association, overseeing the publication of the Journal of the Mississippi State Medical Association, a monthly periodical that has served as the official publication of the MSMA since 1959.

“We are fortunate to have these professionals as board members, dedicated to supporting our agency mission to better the lives of all Mississippians,” Currier said.