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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU: Brazil Yellow Fever Outbreak Necessitates Vaccines

Brazil is in the midst of a yellow fever outbreak, with the mosquito-borne virus reaching popular tourist destinations that do not normally see the disease. Since January 2018, ten cases of yellow fever have been confirmed in international travelers visiting Brazil, including four deaths.

Travelers should plan ahead and get vaccinated against yellow fever at least 10 days before visiting areas affected by the outbreak, including Rio de Janeiro state, Espírito Santo state, São Paulo state, and certain cities in Bahia state, according to a new article co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

The article is an early release Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The authors noted that most people who contract yellow fever do not have symptoms, but among the 15 percent of patients who develop severe illness, the fatality rate is between 20 percent and 60 percent.

“Given the potential severity of yellow fever and a substantial risk of dying from the disease, travelers should make sure that they are vaccinated,” says lead author Dr. Davidson Hamer, professor of global health at BU.

However, the authors wrote that getting the vaccine requires planning ahead for travelers from the United States. The Food and Drug Administration-approved yellow fever vaccine, YF-VAX, is currently unavailable in the US because of manufacturing difficulties, and the alternative yellow fever vaccine, Stamaril, is only available through a limited number of US yellow fever vaccination clinics. “It may take several weeks to make an appointment, and potentially substantial travel time to reach a clinic in some parts of the country,” Dr. Hamer says.

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