Question: I’m going to Brazil. I don’t have a yellow fever jab and according to my research it’s not compulsory.
Should I have one anyway?
Answer: Yellow fever is a potentially fatal mosquito-borne virus that is prevalent in parts of sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America – including Brazil, apart from the eastern coastal fringe.
Worldwide, yellow fever infects around 200 000 people each year. Most victims start to recover after a few days of flu-like symptoms. But around 15 percent – about 30 000 people a year – die of the disease.
A number of nations such as Brazil with a risk of yellow fever transmission will admit the unprotected traveller without formality; restrictions are much more common when seeking to visit non-yellow fever countries.
The NHS travel medicine site, fitfortravel.nhs.uk, says: “The disease is mainly found in rural areas but outbreaks in urban areas do occur. Vaccination is usually recommended for those who travel into risk areas.”
If you are making a short trip to the popular coastal areas such as Rio and the Bahia region, you could rationally choose not to get a vaccination.
But if you are venturing deeper into Brazil, it is certainly worth getting the jab – which will stand you in good stead for future travel to risk areas.
* On publication of this story, an Independent Traveller reader, back from a recent trip to Brazil, says immigration authorities asked for a yellow fever certificate. Please check with your travel agent or travel clinic when going overseas.