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How to avoid yellow fever

A yellow fever certificate
Click to enlarge

A few simple steps to protect yourself from a tropical disease

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious, sometimes fatal, viral illness that is spread by a mosquito, Aedes aegypti. The symptoms of yellow fever are:

  • sudden fever
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • jaundice

Yellow fever is mild for most patients and passes within days, but the illness may progress to the more serious haemorrhagic form which can kill 50 per cent of patients.

When you get back from your trip to an area with a yellow fever risk, if you suffer any feverish symptoms, see a doctor and tell them about your travel history. There is more information about yellow fever in our travel health article.

Do I need to avoid mosquito bites if I’ve had the yellow fever shot?

The yellow fever vaccine, Stamaril, is very effective, but it is not 100% effective so you need to avoid mosquito bites. There are, in any case, several other unpleasant diseases carried by mosquitoes, some of which cannot be prevented by vaccines or chemo-prophylaxis. Our article on mosquito avoidance has some tips.

The yellow fever vaccine starts to provide effective protection ten days after it has been administered, so be sure to make your travel health appointment in plenty of time.

Where is there a risk of catching yellow fever?

The mosquitoes that carry the yellow fever virus live in the tropical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South America. The yellow fever map is always changing, so you should seek professional advice about whether you need this shot. The risk increases during the rainy season.

Do I need a yellow fever certificate when I travel?

When you get your yellow fever shot you will receive a yellow fever certificate (international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis, or ICVP) , and it should be valid for the rest of your life. A yellow fever certificate can only be obtained from a registered yellow fever vaccination centre, such as Canadian Travel Clinics’ Calgary branch.

Some countries will require you to show a yellow fever certificate (or ICVP) when you enter because a yellow fever risk is present within their borders. When you leave a region where yellow fever is endemic, you may find that your next destination will require you to show this certificate too.

If you cannot produce your ICVP when asked to, you may be quarantined, immunized or refused entry. This could result in lengthy delays and cause you to miss out on activities or connecting flights.

When you are planning your trip, keep an eye on the Government of Canada’s travel advisories for your destination because the yellow fever map is always changing and so too do countries’ requirements. Your travel health nurse at Canadian Travel Clinics’ Downtown Calgary branch will have the latest information, too, and will recommend a shot for yellow fever if this is appropriate for you.

Do I need a booster for yellow fever?

You won’t need a booster for yellow fever because the vaccine provides lifelong protection. However, if you have lost your yellow fever certificate then you can be safely revaccinated.

Where can I get travel vaccinations in Calgary?

If you need an appointment at a travel clinic in Calgary, turn to Canadian Travel Clinics. It is quick and easy to book online.