PHILIPSBURG–The Health Ministry’s Collective Prevention Services (CPS) says it has been monitoring developments related to yellow fever since January 2017 and has had its surveillance mechanism on alert for any potential cases.
CPS said in a press release on Monday that persons travelling to countries with yellow fever should be vaccinated. Those returning to St Maarten experiencing symptoms should immediately consult their family physician.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) in its recent epidemiological report about yellow fever in the Americas encouraged member states to continue efforts to immunise the at-risk populations and take the necessary actions to keep travellers informed and vaccinated when heading to areas where yellow fever vaccination is recommended.
Seven countries and territories of the Region of the Americas reported confirmed cases of yellow fever between January 2016 and December 2017: the Pluri-National State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru and Suriname.
The number of human cases and epizootics collectively reported in this period in the Region of the Americas is the highest observed in decades. The observed increase is as much related to an ecosystem favourable to the dissemination of the virus as to the unimmunised populations.
Only Brazil reported new yellow fever cases since the December 13, 2017, Epidemiological Update on Yellow Fever published by PAHO/WHO. Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease that is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Latin America.
The virus is transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that transmits the dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected human or non-human primates and then transmit the virus to other human or non-human primates.
The yellow fever vaccine is safe and affordable and provides effective immunity against the disease in the range of 80-100 per cent of those vaccinated after 10 days and 99 per cent immunity after 30 days.
A single dose provides life-long protection against yellow fever disease. A booster dose or second dose of yellow fever vaccine is not recommended by the Regional and International Yellow Fever Vaccination guidelines.
Given the limitations on the availability of vaccines and with the aim of promoting rational use, PAHO/WHO reiterates its recommendations to national authorities: Member states that are not currently experiencing outbreaks should not conduct yellow fever immunisation campaigns.
Priority should be given to the use of vaccines in susceptible populations, to avoiding revaccination and to ensuring vaccination of all travellers to endemic areas at least 10 days before travelling.