Yellow fever

  • What is yellow fever?
  • How is yellow fever prevented?

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a viral disease which is transmitted by mosquitoes. It only occurs in Africa and South America.

In Africa the disease may occur in savannah zones in West and Central Africa during the rainy season. There are occasional outbreaks in urban locations and villages and also in jungles.

In South America, infection occurs mainly in people working in forestry and agriculture who are likely to have exposure to mosquitoes.

How is yellow fever prevented?

Yellow fever is in fact a rare cause of illness in travellers. However, affected countries have very strict regulations in relation to vaccination. Vaccination followed by an international certificate of vaccination is needed to meet entry and exit requirements. If a traveller cannot accept the vaccination for medical reasons, a medical waiver is necessary.

In Ireland there are a number of government-designated yellow fever vaccination centres which are either travel medicine centres or GP surgeries. A single dose gives protection for 10 years. If you are travelling to a country where a certificate is required, you will need to visit your GP of travel vaccine centre well in advance.

The vaccine is contraindicated in:

  • Infants less than four months old.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People who are hypersensitive to eggs.
  • Those with an immunosuppressed condition.

Travellers should take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites including use of insect repellent, wearing protective clothing and using mosquito netting at night. Mosquitoes are a major cause of illness in tropical countries such as malaria and dengue fever and preventive measures can play a role in avoiding illness among travellers.