Yellow fever prevention is very important. At the moment, there is no antiviral drug that is effective in treating yellow fever; and so, it is best to get the vaccine to prevent infection with the yellow fever virus. In yellow fever treatment, supportive therapy is important and improves the chances of survival.
Progress has been made in fighting this disease in West Africa, since the launch of the Yellow Fever Initiative in 2006. So, more than 105 million people have received immunisation against yellow fever. As a result, there were no reported cases of yellow fever in West Africa in 2015.
The steps to take in yellow fever prevention are:
- The most important step in yellow fever prevention is taking the yellow fever vaccine. Routine vaccination of infants, vaccination of travellers going to areas where yellow fever is endemic and mass vaccination of people in areas with increased risk of yellow fever are very important steps in the prevention of yellow fever outbreaks through vaccination.
- The control of mosquitoes is another way of preventing yellow fever. It involves application of larvicides to standing water anywhere so as to get rid of the breeding sites of the mosquitoes.
- Spraying of insecticides kills and reduces the number of adult mosquitoes.
- It is important to always be ready to take steps to prevent outbreaks. This is another important step in yellow fever prevention. This can be accomplished by detecting yellow fever early and notifying the right authorities who should take immediate action to control or prevent an outbreak by carrying out emergency yellow fever vaccinations.
- Use of insect repellent is also important. Oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be used to prevent mosquito bites. Please note that mosquito repellents that contain permethrin should not be applied directly on skin.
- Wearing protective clothing (trousers, socks, long-sleeved tops) to avoid or minimise mosquito bites. Sometimes, the mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so it is advisable to spray the clothes being worn with insect repellent for extra protection. Please note that mosquito repellents that contain permethrin should not be applied directly on skin.
- Mosquito nets/screens on house doors and windows acts as a barrier to prevent the mosquitoes from getting indoors.
- Staying in air-conditioned places also reduces the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.
- Even though you are vaccinated, it is advisable that you protect yourself from mosquito bites with insect repellents, protective clothing, etc. These are steps in yellow fever prevention that should not be overlooked.
- Aedes aegypti which is the vector for yellow fever in urban areas was eliminated successfully from most parts of South America and Central America in the past. However, the Aedes aaegypti mosquitoes are back in those areas.
In order to avoid being infected with yellow fever, it is important to know the ways through which it spreads and the factors that increase risk of infection.