As efforts to bring an outbreak of yellow fever in Angola under control continue, the World Health Organization is reminding all travellers to the country that they are required to receive the yellow fever vaccination and to have a valid certificate of vaccination to prove that they are protected from the disease and to prevent its further spread.
Since the outbreak in Angola began in December 2015, 1975 suspected cases of yellow fever (618 laboratory confirmed) and 258 deaths have been reported, the majority of them in the capital, Luanda, and in two other provinces. Amid concerns that the virus will spread to other urban areas and to neighbouring countries, a large-scale vaccination campaign was launched in February 2016 and has so far reached almost 7 million people.
“Cases of yellow fever linked to this outbreak have been detected in other countries of Africa and Asia. We are particularly concerned that large urban areas are at risk and we strongly urge all travellers to Angola to ensure they are vaccinated against yellow fever and carry a valid certificate,” said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Yellow fever, which is spread by infected mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes mosquito, is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease for which there is currently no specific treatment. A small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within 10 to 14 days. A single dose vaccination, however, provides protection for life and is both safe and affordable. It is effective 10 days after the date of immunization.
Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), all travellers to Angola are required to be vaccinated against yellow fever. The IHR are a legally binding framework to stop the spread of infectious diseases and other health threats. IHR require that any travellers to Angola who have medical grounds for not being vaccinated against yellow fever, must have those grounds certified by the appropriate authorities.
WHO, together with other partners, is working to support the Government of Angola combat the current outbreak by ensuring targeted vaccination that makes best use of global vaccine supplies, as well as by increasing disease surveillance and strengthening vector control.
WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to Angola on the basis of information available on this outbreak. The vaccination of each person before going to affected areas as well as measures to avoid mosquito bites is sufficient for the prevention of the disease.
WHO’s list of countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and those with yellow fever requirements for travellers can be found on the WHO website at http://www.who.int/ith/2016-ith-annex1.pdf and http://www.who.int/ith/2015-ith-county-list.pdf?ua=1