Yellow fever is a serious viral infection that is spread by certain types of mosquito. It’s mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa, South America and parts of the Caribbean. The condition can be prevented with a vaccination and is a very rare cause of illness in travellers. Six travellers from Europe and North America have died from yellow fever since 1996. None of them were vaccinated.
How it is spread:
The virus that causes yellow fever is passed to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes that spread the infection are usually active and bite during daylight hours, from dusk until dawn, and are found in both urban and rural areas.
Yellow fever can’t be passed directly from person to person through close contact.
Yellow Fever Symptoms:
The symptoms of yellow fever occur in two stages. The initial symptoms develop three to six days after infection, and can include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- a headache
- nausea or vomiting
- muscle pain, including backache
- loss of appetite
This stage will usually pass after three to four days and most people will make a full recovery. However, around 15% of people go on to develop more serious problems, including jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), kidney failure and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach (causing blood in your vomit and stools).
Up to half of those who experience these symptoms will die.
Treating Yellow Fever:
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, but the symptoms can be treated while your body fights off the virus.
Headache, high temperature and muscle pain can be treated using painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. You should also drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.