Yellow fever travel update

The South African National Department of Health has issued a statement regarding Yellow Fever vaccination requirements for travellers, and shortages of the vaccine.

The statement is in response to confusion from the public about the Yellow Fever requirements for travellers to and from Zambia, and reports of a shortage of vaccines in South Africa.

The public is advised to note that Zambia is not presently on the list of countries from which South Africa requires a Yellow Fever certificate and travellers to and from this country are not required to have a valid Yellow Fever certificate. Should the policy change, members of the public, including travel agencies, will be properly informed.

The supplier of Yellow Fever vaccines has informed the Department that demands have exceeded supply and that there is currently a shortage in the country, which will only be corrected by late August.

Yellow fever carrier Aedes aegypti (Pic: Muhammad Mahdi)

South Africans who intend to travel to Zambia or through high risk areas are advised to postpone travel if possible. If not, such travellers should avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothes, especially in the early evenings and when outdoors; to apply insecticide repellent to the exposed body parts and to sleep under treated mosquito nets.

These travellers should also ensure they know the Yellow Fever symptoms and keep a watch out for them. Yellow Fever symptoms may include a sudden onset of fever, headache, backache, nausea, vomiting and jaundice. In very severe cases there may be nosebleeds, vomiting of blood and blood in stools.

The clinical symptoms may be confused with other viral infections; therefore, confirmation of the presence of Yellow Fever virus is critical.

Upon their return into the country, they need to continue monitoring themselves for symptoms and be in telephonic contact with port health officials for a period of up to six days.

For further information please contact Mr Fidel Hadebe on 012 395-8493 or 079 517-3333.

Adapted from a press release issued by the National Department of Health.

- Olivia Rose-Innes, Health24, July 2011

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