MOH issues travel advisory on yellow fever: 7 things you should know

An Aedes aegypti mosquito.
An Aedes aegypti mosquito.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - People going for the Olympic Games in Brazil are advised by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to get vaccinated as they may bring yellow fever back to Singapore.

While there have been many news reports about Zika, which Singapore saw a case of just last week, the ongoing yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo have stayed under the radar.

Here's more about the lesser-known disease, which has no known cure.

1. What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a viral haemorrhagic disease caused by the yellow fever virus.


2. How is it spread?

It is spread by the same Aedes mosquito that is responsible for transmitting the Zika virus and dengue, which is endemic in Singapore.

3. Why is it a concern?

As the disease is also spread by the Aedes mosquito, there is the risk that it will take root here once imported.

While yellow fever is not widely found in Rio de Janeiro, it is endemic in the majority of states in Brazil.

4. What are the symptoms?

Most infected people show no symptoms or have only mild illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint aches, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting.

But about 15 per cent of the patients then develop a more severe form of the disease where they may get high fever, jaundice, bleeding and organ failure. It proves fatal for 20 to 50 per cent of such patients.

The incubation period is usually three to six days.

5. What is the cure?

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, although the symptoms can be relieved by rest and medication to reduce the fever and pain.

6. How do I get vaccinated?

Vaccination for yellow fever is mandatory for travel to sub-Saharan Africa and South America. MOH said that the vaccine is available at more than 100 clinics and confers lifetime immunity.

Travellers should get vaccinated at least 10 days before they travel as the body needs time to build up protective antibodies.

The list of clinics that provide yellow fever vaccination can be found here.

Travellers, especially those who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds, should protect themselves from mosquito bites, MOH said.

7. Has there been a yellow fever outbreak in Singapore?

The disease has never taken hold in Asia. While reports in the past have expressed concern that it will spread here, it never has for reasons unknown.

World Health Organisation figures show there are an estimated 130,000 cases of yellow fever reported yearly, causing 44,000 deaths worldwide each year, with 90 per cent occurring in Africa.