The Public Health Department is closely monitoring the presence of yellow fever internationally and especially in the region. This is in light of reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) of a large outbreak of yellow fever that is ongoing in the African nation of Angola, including Luanda, and Asia.
In the region of the Americas, during the past 10 years yellow fever has been reported in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. In 2015, three countries in the Americas confirmed yellow fever virus circulation – these are Bolivia, Brazil and Peru. In 2016, only one country in the Americas (Peru) confirmed cases of yellow fever.
“Yellow fever is a viral disease similar to dengue fever .The virus is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. The ‘yellow’ in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients in severe cases,” Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams Rodriguez explained.
The initial symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, general body aches, nausea, and vomiting, fatigue and weakness. Most persons improve after the initial presentation and their symptoms disappear after three to four days. In persons who develop symptoms, the incubation period (time from infection until illness) is typically three to six days. The majority of persons infected with yellow fever virus have no illness or only mild illness, he added.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever – treatment is symptomatic. Rest, fluids, and use of pain relievers and medication to reduce fever may relieve symptoms of aching and fever. Care should be taken to avoid certain medications, such as aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen, Naproxen), which may increase the risk of bleeding.
People travelling to known yellow fever endemic countries should take preventative measures such as using a repellent, wearing protective clothing, using air conditioning indoors, or only opening screened windows and doors, staying indoors during early dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and/or getting vaccinated when travelling to countries which are endemic. The yellow fever vaccine provides effective immunity beginning 10 days after the date of vaccination.
Dr. Williams-Rodriguez further reiterated: “There are no suspected cases of yellow fever in the Cayman Islands. Because we have the Aedes aegypti mosquito, involved in the spread of yellow fever, in the Cayman Islands, we do have potential for transmission if a returning resident or a visitor has the yellow fever virus. We remain in constant contact with our partners in prevention and control, the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) for their appropriate action. Any samples from suspected cases will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for confirmation as they have the capacity for testing.”
For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2621, or Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac on 948-2243.
• According to the recent analysis, there are an estimated 84,000-170,000 cases and up to 60,000 deaths due to yellow fever per year.
• At risk are 44 endemic countries in Africa and Latin America, with a combined population of over 900 million.
• In Africa, an estimated 508 million people live in 31 countries at risk. The remaining population at risk are in 13 countries in Latin America, with Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru at greatest risk.
Countries with yellow fever transmission, and those with yellow fever vaccination requirements for travellers, can be found on the WHO website at