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October 9, 1996

Yellow Fever: A Decade of Reemergence

JAMA. 1996;276(14):1157-1162. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540140045025

Since the 1980s, yellow fever has reemerged across Africa and in South America. The total of 18 735 yellow fever cases and 4522 deaths reported from 1987 to 1991 represents the greatest amount of yellow fever activity reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) for any 5-year period since 1948. There is an excellent vaccine against yellow fever. At present, a high proportion of travelers to at-risk areas are reported to be immunized, reflecting widespread knowledge about the International Health Regulations. In South America, yellow fever remains an occupational hazard for forest workers, who should be immunized. However, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are now present in urban areas in the Americas (including southern parts of the United States), and there is concern that yellow fever could erupt in explosive outbreaks. In Africa, a large proportion of cases have occurred in children. The WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the World Bank have recommended that 33 African countries at risk for yellow fever add the vaccine to the routine Expanded Programme on Immunization; studies show that this would be highly cost-effective. To date, financing yellow fever vaccine has been a major problem for these countries, which are among the poorest in the world. For this reason, WHO has launched an appeal to raise $70 million for yellow fever control in Africa.