Prevention of yellow fever in persons traveling to the tropics

Thomas P Monath, Martin S Cetron
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2002 May 15, 34 (10): 1369-78
Yellow fever (YF) is a potentially lethal mosquito-borne viral hemorrhagic fever endemic in Africa and South America. Nine million tourists annually arrive in countries where YF is endemic, and fatal cases of YF have occurred recently in travelers. In this article, we review the risk factors for YF during travel and the use of YF 17D vaccine to prevent the disease. Although the vaccine is highly effective and has a long history of safe use, the occurrence of rare, fatal adverse events has raised new concerns. These events should not deter travelers to areas where YF is endemic from being immunized, because the risk of YF infection and illness may be high in rural areas and cannot be easily defined by existing surveillance. To avoid unnecessary vaccination, physicians should vaccinate persons at risk on the basis of knowledge of the epidemiology of the disease, reports of epidemic activity, season, and the likelihood of exposure to vector mosquitoes.

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