In December 2016, the Brazil Ministry of Health announced a continuing outbreak of yellow fever in the country. Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquito bites. Since the outbreak began, the majority of cases have been in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. As of January 24th, 2017, a total of 404 cases (66 confirmed, 337 suspected, and one discarded), including 84 deaths (37 among confirmed cases and 47 among suspected with a case mortality rate of 56 percent and 14 percent, respectively) were reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that this has been the largest reported yellow fever outbreak since 2000.
Forty-five percent of the 66 confirmed cases from Minas Gerais State have not been vaccinated against yellow fever. However, the vaccination status of the remaining 55 percent is either unknown or not available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health authorities in the states affected with yellow fever have implemented mass vaccination campaigns with help from the Brazilian Ministry of Health.
How is Brazil responding to the yellow fever outbreak?
The Ministry of Health of Brazil sent 4.2 million doses of yellow fever vaccines to the states of Bahia, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro, adding to the 650,000 doses already distributed in the routine of the National Vaccination Calender in January 2017.
Is it safe to travel to Brazil?
The CDC has moved Brazil to an Alert Level 2 travel notice. There are three levels of travel notices including the following:
- Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
- Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
- Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
In an Alert Level 2 travel notice, the CDC believes that travelers are in increased “risk in defined settings or associated with specific risk factors; certain high-risk populations may wish to delay travel to these destinations” and that travelers should follow “enhanced precautions for this destination.” The CDC recommends travelers to contact a yellow vaccine provider at least 30 days before traveling to the area affected with yellow fever. Also, travelers are strongly advised to avoid mosquito bites and become aware of yellow fever symptoms.
What are the symptoms of yellow fever?
Symptoms of acute yellow fever may appear 3-6 days after infection including the following:
The majority of patients with acute yellow fever recover, but some patients experience the toxic phase of yellow fever. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Vomiting of blood
- Yellowish discoloration of the skin
- Decrease urine output
To read more about yellow fever, click here.
The yellow fever outbreak comes after Brazil has been dealing with another mosquito-transmitted disease called the Zika virus in 2015 and 2016, causing widespread discussion during the 2016 Summer Games Olympics.
Written by Stephen Umunna
Approved by Krishna Tangella MD
- Yellow Fever – Brazil." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 01 Feb. 2017. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Mar. 2016. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.