Yesterday afternoon, officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued an alert for travelers heading to parts of Brazil. According to the official alert, officials in Brazil’s Ministry of Health have stated that there is an ongoing Yellow Fever outbreak that started in December of 2016. Initially in the Minas Gerais state, cases are now being seen in Sao Paulo and other surrounding areas. It is estimated that over 400 individuals have been infected thus far, with 40 confirmed deaths in humans and possibly 400 deaths in certain species of native monkeys. In an effort to fight back against the spread of this disease, Brazilian authorities are launching a widespread vaccination campaign to help immunize those who are currently unprotected. The CDC recommends that those traveling to effected areas of Brazil get vaccinated against yellow fever, or receive a booster if their last vaccination was over 10 years ago. Currently, there is a shortage of yellow fever vaccine, so getting vaccinated may take longer than usual.
Here are some facts about Yellow Fever to help keep you informed:
- The Yellow Fever Virus (YFV) is an RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus – the same family of viruses that includes Dengue and Zika Virus
- Yellow Fever is commonly found in South America and Africa
- As with many other diseases, yellow fever virus is a vector-borne disease that is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, either the Aedes or Haemagogus The virus can be spread to other humans if a mosquito bites an infected human and transfer virus with it while taking a blood meal.
- Most individuals who become infected with yellow fever will experience no symptoms or mild symptoms. For individuals who do experience symptoms, it usually takes between 3-6 days for them to appear after being infected. Common symptoms include:
- Sudden fever
- Severe headache
- Body aches
- Nausea / vomiting
- General weakness and fatigue
- In some cases (15%), the disease takes a severe course and includes symptoms such as high fever, jaundice, bleeding, shock, and possibly, death.
- There is no treatment for yellow fever, so hospitalized patients will receive general supportive care until the disease works its way out of the body
How to minimize your risk of contracting yellow fever:
- Get vaccinated!! Unlike other diseases in its family, the yellow fever virus vaccine is very effective at inducing immunity and does not require a booster in most cases. If you live in or are traveling to a region where yellow fever has been known to transmit, getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to remain safe
- Use mosquito repellent – repellents containing DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus have been proven to work the best
- Wear appropriate clothing – long sleeve tops and long pants are most effective at minimizing the amount of exposed skin that a mosquito could bite
- Avoid going outside at dusk and dawn – mosquitoes are most active during these times, so avoiding them will help minimize your risk of being bit
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