Published On: Mon, Jan 15th, 2018

Yellow Fever: PAHO urges member states to remain vigilant

MosquitoThe Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) in its recent epidemiological report about yellow fever in the Americas, encourages Member States to continue efforts to immunize the at-risk populations and take the necessary actions to keep travelers informed and vaccinated, when heading to areas where yellow fever vaccination is recommended.

Between January 2016 and December 2017, seven countries and territories of the Region of the Americas reported confirmed cases of yellow fever: the Pluri-national State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, and Suriname.

The number of human cases and epizootics collectively reported in this period in the Region of the Americas is the highest observed in decades.

The observed increase is as much related to an ecosystem favorable to the dissemination of the virus as to the unimmunized populations.

Since the 13 December 2017 Epidemiological Update on Yellow Fever published by the PAHO/WHO, only Brazil reported new yellow fever cases.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease that is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America.

The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that can transmits the dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses.  Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates (human or non-human) and then transmit the virus to other primates (human or non-human).

The yellow fever vaccine is safe and affordable and provides effective immunity against the disease in the range of 80 to 100% of those vaccinated after 10 days and 99% immunity after 30 days.

A single dose provides life-long protection against yellow fever disease. A booster dose or second dose of yellow fever vaccine is not recommended by the Regional and International Yellow Fever Vaccination guidelines.

Given the limitations on the availability of vaccines and with the aim of promoting the rational use, PAHO/WHO reiterates its recommendations to national authorities: Member States that are not currently experiencing outbreaks should not conduct yellow fever immunization campaigns.

Priority should be given to the use of vaccines in susceptible populations and to avoid revaccination, and to ensure vaccination of all travelers to endemic areas at least 10 days before traveling.

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department in the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), has been monitoring developments related to yellow fever since January 2017, and has had its surveillance mechanism on alert for any potential cases.

Persons traveling to countries with yellow fever should be vaccinated.  Those returning to Curaçao and Sint Maarten experiencing symptoms should immediately consult their family physician.

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