Africa’s Yellow Fever Alert Highlights Traveler Risks

Yellow fever vaccines are offered at certified travel vaccination pharmacies
yellow fever in Africa
by U.S. CDC
Africa (Vax Before Travel)

Initially referred to as "yellow jack" centuries ago because of the yellow quarantine flag hoisted by sailing ships carrying infected passengers and crew, the yellow fever virus remains active today.

According to the U.S. CDC, about thirty countries are 'endemic' for the mosquito-carrying yellow fever virus. 

And recent outbreaks in Africa indicate the disease poses an ongoing threat to humans.

Yellow fever (YF) is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever that causes about 12% of infected people to develop severe illnesses that can lead to liver disease, bleeding, shock, and organ failure, says the CDC.

Among those who develop severe disease, 30-60% die.

YF fatalities in Africa are about 30,000 people each year, reports the WHO.

The CDC recently issued Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions, advisories for Kenya (July 27, 2022), Nigeria, and Ghana to notify international travelers of the potential risks.

Kenya's confirmed cases had been reported in Isiolo and Garissa Counties.

To prevent YF infections, travelers aged nine months or older who are going to endemic areas in Africa for which CDC recommends yellow fever vaccination should get vaccinated at least ten days before departure.

Moreover, travelers who cannot be vaccinated against yellow fever should not travel to areas with a risk of YF.

The original 17D yellow fever vaccine was created by researchers at the Rockefeller Foundation and received licensing approval in 1938.

This innovative vaccine remains in use today, with more than 850 million doses distributed worldwide.

The newer 17D version includes the YF-Vax vaccine available at certified USA providers and the Stamaril version available globally.

As the CDC continues identifying yellow fever hot spots in Nigeria and Kenya, international travelers need to know they can receive the YF-Vax vaccine at certified pharmacies in the USA.

Pharmacists around the USA can administer this vaccine, such as United Pharmacies in Lubbock, Dallas, and Albuquerque. 

These pharmacies also issue the International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, known as the 'Yellow Fever Card,' which is needed to visit certain countries.

The YF-Vax needs about ten days to build up immunity, so it's best to schedule a vaccination appointment as soon as your travel plans are confirmed.

Previously, the global strategy to eliminate yellow fever epidemics (EYE) was developed by a coalition of partners such as Gavi, UNICEF, and WHO, to face yellow fever's changing epidemiology, the resurgence of mosquitoes, and the increased risk of urban outbreaks and international spread.

The EYE strategy was endorsed by all African Member States during the 67th session of the WHO regional committee for Africa and by the PAHO Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group in 2017.

Furthermore, the east coast of South America (Brazil) continues to report YF cases as of July 31, 2022.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes fact-check, research-based travel vaccine news curated for mobile readership.

It was updated on Oct. 30, 2022, with related links.

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