The CDC has issued new health alerts following news of an outbreak of yellow fever in Brazil. Those traveling to the country are being urged to be vaccinated against the disease, especially those visiting major cities like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the states of Espirito Santo and Bahia.
Yellow fever is a mosquito borne disease, and outbreaks are usually seen in tropical areas in Africa and South America. Symptoms are similar to the flu, and usually last around four days. If untreated symptoms can become severe of even life threatening. Those from high risk groups can be particularly vulnerable to developing more severe symptoms.
According to the official advice on the CDC’s statement “Anyone 9 months or older who travels to or lives in these areas should be vaccinated against yellow fever.” The vaccine is very effective and provides up to 99% lifetime immunity from yellow fever, which can be fatal in some cases.
The most recent outbreak began at the end of 2017. The Sao Paulo area has seen several confirmed cases and there have been a total of 53 deaths last year alone in Brazil which were directly caused by the disease. Worryingly, over half of these deaths were reported in the last few weeks.
One of the most recent cases was that of a Dutch tourist visiting the area earlier this year who had not been vaccinated before travelling. According to reports “The patient reported symptoms of high fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.” According to the WHO, this is not an isolated incident. Brazil has seen sever yellow fever outbreaks in the last year. However, the government has advised that the spread of the virus has slowed thanks to preventative efforts and treatment.
Health officials have warned that although the vaccine provides good protection from yellow fever, it “”is only effective if received at least 10 days prior to arrival in an at-risk area”, so travelers need to make sure they’re organised and get vaccinated as soon as possible before visiting the area.
It’s also been noted that there are shortages of vaccines in some countries including the US. The CDC announced last year that supplies of the life saving vaccines were expected to run out in some countries after the manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, suffered from problems meeting demand.
In addition to this, the large number of people who haven’t been immunized against the disease is a growing concern for health authorities throughout the world. The Brazilian Ministry of Health has commented that, despite fears of a shortage of vaccines, it plans to launch a new campaign to vaccinate 22 million people across the country. It’s thought that offering lower doses could be a viable way of extending the supply to reach more people.