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Yellow fever reported in traveller returning from Brazil

A case of yellow fever in England highlights the importance of pre-travel vaccination. Yellow fever does not pass from person to person.

We are aware of a traveller who has returned from Brazil with yellow fever. Yellow fever does not pass from person to person, you usually only get infected by being bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus. Such mosquitoes are not found in the UK and so there is no risk to public health here.

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Africa and South and Central America (including Trinidad). It does not occur in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands.

A highly effective vaccine is available for people travelling to areas where yellow fever transmission is reported or where yellow fever vaccination is a condition of entry under the International Health Regulations (2005). Vaccines should be administered at least 10 days prior to travel and provides lifelong protection. The vaccine can only be administered in registered yellow fever vaccination centres; a list of yellow fever vaccination centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available on the Yellow Fever Zone website. For travellers in Scotland, details of centres can be found on the Health Protection Scotland website.

If you’re travelling to an area where yellow fever transmission is reported, you should try to avoid mosquito bites, even if you’ve been vaccinated. This includes wearing loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves and trousers; wearing insect repellent on exposed areas of the skin, and using mosquito nets while sleeping. Mosquitoes can also spread other serious illnesses, such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

There has been a surge of human cases of yellow fever in Brazil since December 2017. Other cases of yellow fever in unvaccinated travellers who travelled to risk areas in Brazil have also been reported recently. This resurgence of yellow fever virus circulation in Brazil highlights the importance of seeking pre-travel advice and, if appropriate, vaccination before travelling to Brazil even if you didn’t need vaccine previously.

If you have recently returned from Brazil and have any symptoms, such as fever or flu-like illness, you should seek medical advice and make sure your doctor knows your travel history.

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