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Gary Younge
'Ebola' turns out to be yellow fever

Olaf Ullmann, 40, died at 7.24am yesterday - the first person to be killed by yellow fever in Germany for more than 50 years. His health had deteriorated rapidly in the last 24 hours as his liver and kidneys failed and he lost consciousness.

Ebola was ruled out late on Thursday night, but there was a delay in diagnosing yellow fever partly because Ullmann had been vaccinated in 1993.

The doctor who treated him said yellow fever and ebola had similar symptoms of heavy breathing and high fever, but little else could have been done to save him.

"Even had we known from the beginning he was suffering from yellow fever it would not have changed the treatment," said Norbert Suttorp of Berlin's Charité hospital.

The yellow fever vaccination, considered effective for at least 10 years, fails to provide immunity in 1% of cases. Ullmann was probably bitten by an infected mosquito during his trip to Ivory Coast, where he was filming a documentary on local wildlife.

Experts in tropical medicine wearing plastic suits had been treating him since Tuesday. A 6ft fence was erected around his isolation ward.

An outbreak of yellow fever is considered unlikely: his three travelling companions, including his wife, are in good health.

Swissair, which flew the Ullmanns back from Ivory Coast, has given the passenger list to the German authorities but the risk of contagion is considered negligible.

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