German "Ebola Victim" Dies...
Of Yellow Fever - Panic Over
By Deborah Cole

BERLIN - A German who sparked alarm in Berlin when he fell ill with a tropical disease that doctors at first feared might be the deadly Ebola virus died on Friday of yellow fever, five days after returning from West Africa.
It appeared he might have been the victim of an unlucky chance that prior immunisation against the disease had failed to work.
The doctor who treated 40-year-old Olaf Ullmann said yellow fever and Ebola had similar symptoms -- heavy bleeding and high fever -- which had delayed diagnosis until Friday. But, as with other viruses, there was nothing else doctors could have done.
"Even had we known from the beginning he was suffering from yellow fever it would not have changed the treatment," Norbert Suttorp of Berlin's Charite hospital told a news conference called to allay fears about an outbreak of killer disease.
An expert in tropical diseases said Ullmann, a cameraman who had spent two weeks shooting a wildlife film in Ivory Coast, had probably been bitten by an infected mosquito and there was no reason to think he had passed on the infection to anyone else.
Ullmann's wife, who like two other people who travelled with the dead man has shown no sign of illness, told doctors her husband had been vaccinated against yellow fever in 1993. The treatment is considered effective for at least 10 years.
However, in about one percent of cases it does not work.
Immunisation, which is compulsory for visitors to tropical regions of Africa where yellow fever is endemic, means it is most rare in Europe. The last death in Germany was in 1946.
Charite said it would maintain for the next day or two the strict quarantine regime it imposed around its isolation unit.
Guards erected barriers around the ward as German newspapers ran banner headlines warning of the "Ebola Scare". The highly contagious disease is fatal in as many as four cases in five.
Tropical medicine experts had treated Ullmann wearing hermetic plastic suits but were fighting a losing battle to save him after his liver and kidneys failed on Thursday.
Suttorp said he had slipped in and out of consciousness and had finally been unable to breathe. His wife was kept 80 km (50 miles) away, under medical observation at home.
Yellow fever is widespread in Africa and Latin America and, like all viruses, cannot be cured directly. Doctors can only keep victims' strength up to help their immune system fight it.
Ullmann had returned home to the eastern border town of Frankfurt-an-der-Oder on Sunday and was airlifted to Berlin on Tuesday after his condition deteriorated sharply.
Swissair, which flew the Ullmanns and the couple travelling with them home via Zurich, said it had handed over its passenger lists to the German authorities in line with regulations. But there was no word that fellow passengers had been warned.
Doctors said that, as Ullmann had no symptoms on the flight, it was nearly impossible he could have passed on his disease.
Medical staff at the Charite hospital criticised the media for playing up the incident. It has filled pages of German newspapers for several days during the summer news lull.