Yellow Fever Outbreaks and Updates
Travelling to South America or Africa? What You Need to Know About Yellow Fever
If you are travelling to Africa or South America you may be at risk for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially serious and life threatening disease caused by a virus spread by an infected mosquito that generally bite during the daytime. The best way to prevent yellow fever is to get vaccinated. Some countries also require proof of the yellow fever vaccine for entry, and for to visit certain areas of the country (i.e. some National Parks in Colombia).
What are the Symptoms of Yellow Fever?
Many people infected with the yellow fever virus do not have symptoms. Symptoms that develop can include fever and flu-like symptoms, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), bleeding from multiple body sites, liver, kidney, respiratory and other organ failure, and death (20% – 50% of serious cases).
Where is the Risk?
In Africa there is yellow fever risk in parts of or all of the following countries:
Central African Rep.
Dem. Rep. Of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
In South America there is yellow fever risk in parts of or all of the following countries:
Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad only)
World Health Organization Map:
Current Yellow Fever Outbreaks
Since early 2017 there has been a large ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil, especially in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. Since early 2018 there have been several cases of yellow fever occurring in unvaccinated travellers, many of who were infected on the island of Ilha Grande. Several of these travellers died.
There has been an ongoing outbreak of Yellow Fever in Nigeria since early 2017. Cases of yellow fever have been reported from at least seven states, and several people have died.
Unvaccinated individuals should avoid travel to areas in Brazil and Nigeria where yellow fever is a risk.
Yellow Fever Vaccine
The yellow fever vaccine can be given to adults and children 9 months of age and older. The yellow fever vaccine is not recommended for some people due to health status, immune suppressing medications, or age. It will be determined during your pre-travel consultation if you should not receive the yellow fever vaccine.
A single dose of the yellow fever vaccine creates protection for life. A booster may be recommended after 10 years if travelling to an area with an ongoing outbreak of yellow fever vaccine.
After receiving a full dose of the vaccine an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is provided which is required for entry by certain countries.
Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage
There is currently an extreme shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in North America so a full dose of the vaccine is not always available. When travelling to an area with yellow fever risk, especially to areas experiencing an outbreak, the best option is to receive a full dose of the vaccine or to postpone travel. When this is not possible, the Public Health Agency of Canada has recommended the use of a fractional dose of yellow fever vaccine. Based on existing evidence the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that a fifth of the standard vaccine dose (0.1mL instead of 0.5mL) will provide protection against yellow fever for at least 12 months.
The WHO states that a fractional dose does not qualify for a yellow fever certificate. Therefore, when receiving a fractional dose travellers are provided with a waiver which is valid for 12 months beginning 10 days after vaccination. An explanation that the traveller received a fractional dose due to a severe vaccine shortage is written on the waiver.
It is expected that the yellow fever vaccine shortage will be over in early 2019 and the vaccine will be fully available.
What should you do if you are travelling to Africa or South America?
Book your consultation at TravelSafe Clinic as soon as possible. We will review your itinerary, vaccine history, and medical history to determine if the yellow fever vaccine is recommended for you. If you need the vaccine you will then need to book a separate appointment to return for a yellow fever fractional dosing clinic. You will be booked with a group of people at the same time to receive a fractional dose since the vaccine must be used within one hour once opening (so please arrive on time for your fractional dose!). Depending on vaccine availability you will either return to TravelSafe Clinic for the fractional dosing clinic or be referred to another travel clinic for vaccination.
Don’t let yellow fever put a hiccup in your travel plans! Plan ahead and book your appointment today!