Rochester, Minnesota - The ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in Angola has global public health officials closely monitoring the situation. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) updated its rapid risk assessment due to concerns of potential international spread of the mosquito-borne disease. The ECDC says, “Currently, all regions in Angola should be considered as areas at high risk of transmission of yellow fever. The yellow fever outbreak in Uganda is unrelated to the outbreak in Angola."
Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says yellow fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that is spread by infected mosquitos. Unlike other hemorrhagic diseases such as Ebola and Marburg, yellow fever cannot be spread person-to-person. Dr. Tosh says yellow fever can be prevented with a highly effective vaccine; however, there are risks involved.
"There are some reactions from the live vaccine that are rarely, but potentially life-threatening. It’s not a vaccine we recommend for everyone across the board. You have to weigh your risks and benefits. If you are going to an area that is known to be endemic with yellow fever, and if you are at high risk of being bitten by a mosquito, then the risk of the vaccine is much lower than risk of infection. Yellow fever infection is often very serious and potentially fatal."
Dr. Tosh adds, "It is important for those who are contemplating going to one of these endemic areas of yellow fever to consult with a travel medicine expert to discuss the risk of vaccine."