Travel Alerts

Uganda Confirms Yellow Fever Outbreak in 2019

Yellow fever virus immunity required when visiting Uganda

ugandan farmer in the mist

The African country of Uganda reported various disease outbreaks in 2017 and 2018, and according to new information from the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the yellow fever virus has become endemic. 

Uganda notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that they have declared a yellow fever outbreak on May 6, 2019, following laboratory confirmations from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). 

Following that declaration, various yellow fever outbreaks were confirmed in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda, on May 14, 2019. 

To better understand this outbreak, a national rapid response team was constituted and dispatched to the affected Uganda districts to conduct further investigations to support the response activities. 

Since Uganda has not included a yellow fever vaccine into its national program, this rapid response team may begin administering vaccinations to Uganda residents in the impacted districts. 

Previously, Uganda was designated by the WHO as a high-risk country in the ‘Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics’ (EYE) strategy.

This is because Uganda has a history of outbreaks, such as in 2016. 

The yellow fever outbreak of 2016 was likely sylvatic and transmitted to a susceptible population probably by mosquito bites during farming in forest and swampy areas.  

To reduce this outbreak, a reactive yellow fever vaccination campaign was conducted in 3 districts, including Kalangala, Masaka, and Ruukunguri. 

One of the affected districts during this outbreak was located along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan. Since there are frequent population movements between these countries, there is a potential for the international spread of the yellow fever virus, says the WHO. 

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Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted by certain types of mosquitoes. The infection can cause illness which ranges from a fever with aches and pains to severe liver disease with bleeding and yellowing skin and it can spread rapidly. 

However, yellow fever can be prevented by a single vaccine dose, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices published a recommendation in 2015 that 1 dose of yellow fever vaccine provides long-lasting protection and is adequate for most travelers. 

In reaction to Uganda's outbreak declaration, the CDC updated its vaccination suggestions when visiting Uganda on May 16, 2019. The recommended vaccines now include the MMR, Routine Vaccines and the yellow fever vaccine.   

In the USA, the Stamaril vaccine is approved and has a clinical efficacy profile similar to the YF-VAX vaccine, and is available at select locations. 

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides private sector vaccine prices for general information. And, vaccine discounts can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

International travelers can find convenient locations to schedule a vaccination appointment by visiting Vax-Before-Travel.

As of January 2019, the CDC updated its maps indicating which countries require yellow fever vaccination.