Yellow Fever Less Risky in Certain African Countries

WHO Africa yellow fever vaccination rates improve
WHO Africa yellow fever cases 2022
Africa (Precision Vaccinations)

The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region recently published some good and less than positive news regarding yellow fever.

On January 3, 2022, the WHO African Region published updated data that indicates the number of new yellow fever cases has steadily decreased.

From January 2021 to early December 2022, a total of 203 confirmed and 252 probable cases with 40 deaths (Case Fatality Ratio 9%) were reported, with a decline in new case reports throughout this period.

However, the data also indicates a significant population remains unprotected from this potentially severe disease. 

According to the WHO/UNICEF Estimates of National Immunization Coverage, routine immunization coverage against yellow fever in the African Region for childhood vaccinations was 48% in 2021.

Over 4.3 million persons were recently vaccinated to address this shortcoming in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, and Kenya.

These vaccinations may have contributed to the downward trend in new cases in late 2022, says the WHO.

However, there remains persistent yellow fever virus circulation in certain countries.

Recent confirmations have been from locations with little or no underlying yellow fever immunity, such as near the urban areas in Cameroon and Uganda.

In summary, the WHO says the overall global risk remains low, as no yellow fever cases related to the current outbreak have been reported outside the African region.

But, the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region may be at risk.

To notify international travelers of their potential health risks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued various travel alerts in 2022, such as in Kenya.

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever that is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, says the CDC. Symptoms of yellow fever (fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches) develop 3-6 days after infection.

About 12% of people infected with the yellow fever virus develop severe illnesses that can lead to liver disease, bleeding, shock, organ failure, jaundice, and sometimes death. 

Yellow fever is prevented by an effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable.

A single dose of a yellow fever vaccine (YF-Vax® or Stamaril®) is sufficient to grant sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease.

The vaccine provides effective immunity within 30 days for more than 99% of people vaccinated.

In the U.S., the YF-Vax yellow fever vaccine is available at certified travel clinics and pharmacies.

Additional yellow fever outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel.com.

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Article by
Donald Hackett