Yellow fever: What you need to know

Reports of yellow fever have increased across Central, East and West Africa during the past few months. The current outbreak is believed to have started in Angola in December, and resulted in close on 200 deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as the “worst yellow fever outbreak in 30 years”.

The death of a man from yellow fever in Nairobi prompted the Kenyan Health Ministry to issue a countrywide yellow fever alert, including monitoring points of entry such as airports, reported The New Times of Rwanda.

Rwandan authorities announced on March 28 that travelers arriving at Kigali International Airport without a valid yellow fever certificate would have to pay US$40 (R595) for a vaccination on arrival.

Namibia and Zambia are on high alert for imported cases of yellow fever, reported WHO.

Countries in Africa that carry a risk of yellow fever, according to US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo and Uganda.

Countries with a low potential for exposure to the virus are Eritrea, São Tomé, Somalia, Tanzania and Zambia.

“Yellow fever is a viral illness for which there is no cure but there is an effective vaccine that will prevent it. It is transmitted by a daytime-biting mosquito,” explains Netcare Travel Clinic.

“Travelers immunized against yellow fever are issued with an internationally recognized vaccination certificate for inspection by immigration officials. The international health regulations concerning yellow fever are unequivocal, and not vaccinated travelers may face denial of entry, or even quarantine in certain circumstances. To be effective the vaccine should be administered 7-10 days prior to departure,” the Netcare Travel Clinic’s website goes on to state.

Travelers to countries where yellow fever vaccination is no longer legally required, such as Tanzania and Zambia, have reported that border post officials often still ask for proof of vaccination.

The vaccine provides immunity for 10 years.

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