The Ministry of Health is urging the public to get vaccinated against yellow fever after the virus was detected in monkeys in South Trinidad.
In a release yesterday, the ministry said there has been an increase in deaths among the monkey population in this area, and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed the presence of the fellow fever virus in samples obtained from the bodies of the dead monkeys.
It added that the ministry’s Veterinary Public Health Division and the Insect Vector Control Division routinely monitor the monkey population.
The yellow fever virus can be transmitted to humans mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected primates (humans, monkeys) and can then spread the virus to other primates (human or non-human).
The ministry noted the majority of the population would already have been vaccinated against yellow fever as this is a vaccine given in early childhood.
However, it is advising the public to review the yellow fever (YFV) section on their immunisation cards to ensure they have been vaccinated.
“Anyone who has not been vaccinated against yellow fever should visit their nearest public health centre to do so as soon as possible. It is especially important that children are kept current with their vaccination schedules.
“Children should receive their yellow fever vaccine when they are one year old. A single primary dose of the yellow fever vaccine provides life-long protection,” the ministry said.
Despite the discovery of the virus in monkeys in South Trinidad, the ministry said there is no outbreak of yellow fever in the human population at this time. It added that no case of yellow fever has been recorded in T&T since 1979.
Persons who are especially at risk if they have not been vaccinated include veterinary personnel, laboratory workers who routinely handle wild-type yellow fever virus, agricultural personnel who frequent forested areas, hunters, forest workers, hikers and campers, defence force personnel and health workers who frequent forested areas, and persons who live near forested areas.
The ministry said anyone who develops symptoms of yellow fever should immediately visit a health facility.
Symptoms of yellow fever may include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, fatigue, abdominal pains, bleeding gums or vomiting.