Yellow fever risks a red card
AUSTRALIANS heading to the World Cup risk getting a red card from health authorities if they don’t get vaccinated against deadly yellow fever.
Vaccinations against the disease, which is endemic in Brazil, are required at least 10 days before departure, according to The Travel Doctor – TMVC national medical adviser Dr Tony Gherardin, but travellers shouldn’t wait that long to get it done.
With the World Cup set to kick off on June 12, Gherardin urged soccer fans to get vaccinated now.
“Events like the World Cup are a once-in-a-lifetime chance for many people to experience and fans should make sure they do everything possible to make the trip memorable – for all the right reasons,” he said.
“We’ve got a large body of Aussies going off to Brazil and they’re rightly excited about the soccer, the drinking and the partying. What we’re trying to do is warn people about the risks and tell them how they can protect themselves.”
Yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes and can result in extreme illness in humans, and often death.
It is called yellow fever because, in serious cases, the skin turns yellow in colour, and is considered to be endemic in 30 African and 13 Central and South American countries.
In Brazil, it occurs most commonly in jungle areas but it can also occur in the cities.
Gherardin said Australians who travel to Brazil for the World Cup will be asked for proof of vaccination on their return to Australia, and risk being placed in quarantine if they fail to provide it.
They may also be refused entry into Brazil without a valid vaccination certificate.
According to the federal Department of Health, yellow fever is transmitted to humans from the bite of infected aides aegypti and haemagogus mosquitoes.
Symptoms may take three to six days to appear, and most cases result in serious illness characterised by initial fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting headache and weakness.
About 15-25 per cent of cases progress to a second stage, of which half die within 10 to 14 days.
The department says “visible bleeding, jaundice, kidney and liver failure can occur” and there is no specific treatment for yellow fever, meaning that vaccination is key. The department’s website provides a list of authorised yellow fever vaccination providers.
Gherardin said yellow fever was just one of a number of transmissible viruses travellers could be exposed to in Brazil, many of which require vaccinations six to eight weeks before departure.
Other health risks include dengue fever, typhoid fever, malaria, rabies and hepatitis A and B.
Aside from getting vaccinated, Gherardin recommended other simple preventive actions to stay safe in Brazil during the World Cup, such as applying mosquito repellent, avoiding touching local animals, eating and drinking safely and practising safe sex.