SINGAPORE: Travellers are advised to get vaccinated against yellow fever before going to countries where the mosquito-borne disease is endemic, said Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Feb 14).
The vaccination should be done at least 10 days before travelling.
MOH cited the case of Brazil, which recently reported an outbreak of yellow fever that has killed at least 40 people. As of Jan 25, there were more than 400 confirmed and suspected cases centred in rural areas of Minas Gerais state, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which said this is the highest number reported since 2000.
Yellow fever is a viral disease found in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas that mainly affects humans and monkeys. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue and the Zika virus.
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint aches, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting. In most cases, the symptoms disappear after three to four days and only a small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms, said MOH.
While there has not been any reported cases of yellow fever in Singapore, MOH said “any importation of the disease risks the disease taking root here due to the presence of the Aedes mosquito vector”.
MOH warned that those going to yellow fever endemic countries could be infected if they are not vaccinated before travelling. “Vaccination is the most effective preventive measure against yellow fever,” it said. “The vaccine confers lifelong protection against the disease 10 days after vaccination. A booster dose is not required.”
The yellow fever vaccination is available at more than 100 GP clinics in Singapore, as well as travel health clinics at public and private hospitals, said the ministry.
It added that those who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds should protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long, covered clothing, applying insect repellent and sleeping under mosquito nets or in rooms with wire-mesh screens to keep out mosquitoes.