The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Yellow Fever in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Updated May 25, 2016

What is the current situation?

The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reported an outbreak of yellow fever. At least 39 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported since March 2016. All cases have been reported from provinces close to the border with Angola, where there is a large yellow fever outbreak. Most yellow fever cases in DRC were acquired in Angola, but several infections were acquired in DRC. The Ministry of Health is working with the World Health Organization to control the outbreak and is planning an emergency vaccination campaign.

The government of DRC requires all travelers older than 1 year of age to show proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers to DRC aged 9 months or older be vaccinated against yellow fever.

Since there is currently a shortage of yellow fever vaccine(, travelers may need to contact a yellow fever vaccine provider well in advance of travel. CDC no longer recommends booster doses of yellow fever vaccine for most travelers. However, DRC is currently a higher-risk setting because of the outbreak, so travelers to DRC may consider getting a booster if their last yellow fever vaccine was more than 10 years ago. For more information, see

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.

How can travelers protect themselves?

Travelers can protect themselves from yellow fever by getting yellow fever vaccine and preventing mosquito bites.

Get yellow fever vaccine:

Prevent mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
    • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
    • Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

Clinician Information:

Additional Information: