Yellow Fever Outbreak in Northern Uganda (01.06.11)


The Ugandan Ministry of Health recently announced that there are several laboratory-confirmed yellow fever cases as part of an ongoing disease outbreak in northern Uganda.  The outbreak started in early November and to date has only affected the northern districts of Uganda; however, CDC has a long-standing recommendation for all travelers to Uganda to obtain the yellow fever vaccine based on the ongoing nationwide risk of yellow fever disease. Because this is an evolving situation, details of this outbreak are limited.

This is the first confirmed outbreak of yellow fever in Uganda since the 1970s. In response to the outbreak, the Ugandan Ministry of Health is planning a mass vaccination campaign in the affected districts. 

Yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America and is spread to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Initial symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, backache, nausea, and vomiting.

Recommendations for US Travelers

Yellow fever is always a potential health risk in Uganda. However, this outbreak of human cases suggests a higher risk of infection for travelers to northern Uganda at this time. It also highlights the necessity of preventive measures, especially vaccination, before travel.

US citizens residing and traveling in Uganda are advised to avoid travel to northern Uganda unless they have been vaccinated against yellow fever within the past 10 years. If you have been vaccinated recently, do not travel to northern Uganda for at least 10 days after receiving the vaccine since it takes 10 days for the vaccine to be effective. 

  • Get vaccinated:
    • CDC recommends that all travelers 9 months of age and older traveling to Uganda receive yellow fever vaccination.
    • Uganda requires yellow fever vaccination for travelers 1 year of age and older arriving from countries endemic for yellow fever.
    • Talk to your doctor to make sure you do not have any medical conditions that might prevent you from receiving the vaccine. If the doctor advises you not to get the yellow fever vaccine because of medical reasons, you should not travel to Uganda at this time, especially the districts involved in this outbreak.
  • For additional information, see CDC yellow fever vaccination recommendations and requirements for Uganda.

  • Prevent insect bites:
    • When outdoors or in a building that is not well screened, use insect repellent on uncovered skin. Always apply sunscreen before insect repellent.
      • Look for a repellent that contains one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535. Always follow the instructions on the label when you use the repellent.
      • In general, repellents protect longer against mosquito bites when they have a higher concentration (%) of the active ingredient. However, concentrations above 50% do not offer a marked increase in protection time. Products with less than 10% of an active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often just 1-2 hours.
      • The American Academy of Pediatrics approves the use of repellents with up to 30% DEET on children over 2 months old. Protect babies less than 2 months old by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
      • For more information about the use of repellent on infants and children, please see the “Insect and Other Arthropod Protection” section in Traveling Safely with Infants and Children in CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010 and the “Children” section of CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions about Repellent Use.
      • For more information on the use of insect repellents, visit Insect and Arthropod Protection in CDC Health Information for International Travel 2010.
    • Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
    • Spray clothing with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent for more protection. (Remember: Don't use permethrin on skin.)

Visit the Uganda destination pages on the CDC Travelers’ Health website for information about other steps to take to ensure a safe and healthy trip.