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Objective:To examine the potential for international travel to spread yellow fever virus to cities around the world. Methods:We obtained data on the international flight itineraries of travellers who departed yellow fever-endemic areas of the world in 2016 for cities either where yellow fever was endemic or which were suitable for viral transmission. Using a global ecological model of dengue virus transmission, we predicted the suitability of cities in non-endemic areas for yellow fever transmission. We obtained information on national entry requirements for yellow fever vaccination at travellers' destination cities. Findings:In 2016, 45.2 million international air travellers departed from yellow fever-endemic areas of the world. Of 11.7 million travellers with destinations in 472 cities where yellow fever was not endemic but which were suitable for virus transmission, 7.7 million (65.7%) were not required to provide proof of vaccination upon arrival. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Peru and the United States of America had the highest volumes of travellers arriving from yellow fever-endemic areas and the largest populations living in cities suitable for yellow fever transmission. Conclusion:Each year millions of travellers depart from yellow fever-endemic areas of the world for cities in non-endemic areas that appear suitable for viral transmission without having to provide proof of vaccination. Rapid global changes in human mobility and urbanization make it vital for countries to re-examine their vaccination policies and practices to prevent urban yellow fever epidemics.

Original publication




Journal article


Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Publication Date





343 - 354B


Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5B 1W8, Canada.


Humans, Yellow Fever, Yellow Fever Vaccine, Vaccination, Cities, Disease Outbreaks, Endemic Diseases, Health Policy, Travel