The Hong Kong Department of Health today drew the public’s attention to the ongoing outbreak of yellow fever in Angola and appealed to travelers for vigilance and early vaccination before departure.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), yellow fever cases were first recorded in the capital of Angola, Luanda, last December. The majority of cases were reported in Luanda. As of March 21, a total of 1,132 suspected and confirmed cases and 168 deaths had been reported in Angola.
As the outbreak in Angola emerges, the risk of importation to other countries is increasing. The National Health and Family Planning Commission notified the first imported case of yellow fever in the Mainland on March 13. To date, five cases have been reported. All patients had traveled to Angola before onset and some had yet to be vaccinated against yellow fever before their trip.
“Locally, yellow fever is a notifiable infectious disease, and confirmed and probable cases are statutorily required to be notified. No cases have been reported since 1997. While disease surveillance has been in place, anti-mosquito measures during travel and vaccination before departure remain the key to prevention,” a spokesman for the DH said.
The WHO recommends immunization for all travelers aged nine months and above travelling to and from at-risk areas unless they are contraindicated for vaccination. Travelers vaccinated against yellow fever are given an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis which is valid for life from ten days after the injection. As it takes ten days for the vaccine to become effective in providing good protection, adequate time should be allowed for vaccination before departure.
In Hong Kong, yellow fever vaccine is available in the DH’s Travel Health Centres. Travelers should make an appointment at least six weeks before travel. The two Centres are:
The Travel Health Centre (Hong Kong)
Address: Room 26, 18/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Telephone: 2961 8840
Travel Health Centre (Kowloon)
Address: 1/F, West Kowloon Health Centre, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices, 303 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon
Telephone: 2150 7235
“We will issue letters to doctors and hospitals on the latest situation. Doctors should stay alert to patients returning from affected areas with compatible symptoms,” the spokesman added.
Yellow fever remains the only disease specifically designated under the International Health Regulation (2005) for which proof of vaccination may be required by certain countries as a condition of entry.