Yel­low fever risks a red card

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - NEWS -

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.

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