Yellow fever (YF) is a vaccine preventable viral infection transmitted predominantly by certain species of day biting mosquitoes. YF virus can cause an illness that results in jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and bleeding, with severe damage to the major organs. The death rate is high in those who develop severe disease.
YF is a risk in tropical parts of Africa, South America, eastern Panama in Central America and Trinidad in the Caribbean. Areas with a risk of YF transmission are countries (or areas within countries) where mosquito species known to transmit the disease are present and where the infection is reported in monkeys and/or humans.
Yellow fever is rare in western travellers. The last reported case in the UK was acquired by a laboratory technician working with the virus in London in the 1930s. There were six recorded deaths from YF in non-vaccinated European and American travellers between 1996 and 2010.
The risk of contracting YF is determined by the following factors:
In order to prevent the international spread of YF, under International Health Regulations, countries may require proof of vaccination, recorded in an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). Country specific certificate requirements can be found in our Country Information pages.
Those visiting YF risk areas should practise meticulous mosquito bite avoidance.
A highly effective live YF vaccine is available and in general vaccination is recommended for all persons visiting countries where there is a risk of YF virus transmission. Very rarely yellow fever vaccination is associated with serious adverse reactions. Prior to vaccination a careful risk assessment is required that takes into account:
|Stamaril®||Single Dose||Minimum age 9 months. Seek medical advice for infants 6-8 months who are travelling to high risk area|
YF vaccine should not be given to the following:
For those with a febrile illness (fever) or who are acutely unwell, YF vaccination should be postponed until full recovery.
Where travel to YF risk areas is unavoidable, YF vaccination may be considered for the following groups (expert opinion may be advisable, see resources below for details on adverse events):
With some exceptions, protection from YF vaccination lasts for at least 35 years, and could be life-long. Reinforcing immunisation (booster dose) should be offered to those needing a valid ICVP and a small subset of travellers who may be at continued risk see Public Health England guidance. Until 10 July 2016, the International Health Regulations (2005) state that the period of validity of the ICVP for yellow fever vaccination is ten years from the date that the vaccination is effective. Individual country certificate requirements should be checked on our Country Information pages.