Yellow Fever Public Health Advisory for International Travel

Thursday, November 07, 2019


Issued by: NCDC and Port Health Services (PHS) - November 2019


Yellow fever remains a disease of significant public health importance despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine, with an annual estimate of 200,000 cases and 30,000 deaths globally. Large outbreaks occur when infected people introduce the virus into densely populated communities with high concentration of mosquitoes and low to no vaccination coverage. In such situations, the virus is transmitted from person to person through bites from an infected mosquito. 

Yellow fever can easily be misdiagnosed because the symptoms are very similar to those of malaria. The symptoms mainly include, fever, muscle or joint pain, headache, loss of appetite and vomiting. In severe cases yellowing of the eyes (jaundice) and unexplained bleeding from the mouth, nose or eyes may occur. There is no direct human-to-human transmission of the disease. However, the Aedes specie mosquito can transmit yellow fever from an infected person to an unvaccinated person.

Yellow fever is completely vaccine-preventable. A single dose of the vaccine provides lifetime protection against the disease. The vaccine is free for children from 9 months to 2 years as part of the national routine immunisation schedule in all government health facilities across the country. International travelers can receive the vaccine from Port Health Services at the points of entry (POE) or their respective offices in the country. Adults in-country can get the vaccine at an affordable cost from health facilities nationwide.

Risk of Infection for International Travelers

With globalisation, the ease of migration has increased, making it possible for people seeking new opportunities to travel in and out of areas endemic for yellow fever, and also at risk of developing the disease if unvaccinated, or spreading it if infected. Occasionally unvaccinated people working, hiking or travelling in jungles or forest get bitten by infected mosquitoes and develop yellow fever. This can lead to further transmission among urban populations (spread by the Aedes species of mosquito).

Travel-Related Recommendations to Prevent the International Spread of Yellow Fever

• The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends travellers to get the yellow fever vaccine atleast 10 days before travelling to prevent risk of importation or exportation of the virus. The vaccine can be co-administered with other vaccines recommended for travelers, such as measles and oral polio vaccine.

• Travellers should obtain the International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis (ICVP, also known as Yellow Card) as proof of immunisation to allow for access into various countries.

• Travellers should stay protected from mosquito bites through the use of insect repellants and insecticides and ensuring good environmental sanitation at all times.

• The vaccine is essential for anyone between 9 months and 60 years of age.

• WHO does not recommend the vaccine for the following group of people:

o Pregnant women (except during an outbreak with recommendation from a doctor)

o People who have severe allergies to egg or a previous life threatening reaction to the vaccine

o People with severe immune deficiency (e.g. due to symptomatic HIV/AIDS)

About NCDC and Port Health Services

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) was established in the year 2011 in response to the challenges of public health emergencies and to enhance Nigeria’s preparedness and response to epidemics through prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases. Its core mandate is to detect, investigate, prevent and control diseases of national and international public health importance.

Port Health Services or PHS (a division of the Federal Ministry of Health) is the competent public health authority at Nigeria’s Points of Entry (PoE) responsible for infectious disease surveillance, implementing WHO International Health Regulations, public health and other relevant laws, public health related exit and entry control, and ensuring a sanitary environment at the PoE.

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