- Yellow Fever is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito.
- Yellow Fever is predominately located in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and in South America.
- Some countries require that travelers have proof of vaccination to enter.
- Yellow Fever vaccine is very safe and is the most effective way to prevent this disease.
- In addition to vaccination, travelers should take proper insect precautions.
Yellow Fever is a viral hemorrhagic disease that is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Although this disease is largely unknown in the United States, the number of global infections has been on the rise. This disease is located primarily in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and in South America. Each year, there are approximately 200,000 cases of Yellow Fever, which result in approximately 30,000 deaths. It has been posited that the number of cases has increased somewhat due to deforestation, urbanization, climate change, and the movement of populations.
It is generally recommended that travelers to an endemic area get the Yellow Fever vaccine. Indeed, in some cases, vaccination is not a choice; travelers must have proof of vaccination to enter some countries. In the US, the Yellow Fever vaccine must be administered at an approved Yellow Fever Vaccination center, and you will receive a Yellow Fever Vaccine Certificate following administration. All Passport Health locations are approved Yellow Fever Vaccination Centers. Your Travel Health Specialist will advise you on whether the vaccine is required for your itinerary; if so, be sure to carry your Certificate with you when you enter your destination country. Note that the vaccine is very safe and is the most effective way to prevent this disease. Reactions to the vaccine are rare, affecting only about 2 to 5 percent of individuals, with some mild body aches and a low-grade fever that only lasts for a few days.
In addition to vaccination, travelers can prevent this mosquito-borne disease by taking proper insect precautions. For instance, travelers should cover as much skin as possible with long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use an insect repellent that contains DEET, and spray this thoroughly on exposed parts of the body. Spray lightweight clothing with a repellent containing Permethrin as well since mosquitoes may bite through clothing. Use mosquito netting for sleeping for an extra layer of protection. Furthermore, try to stay in rooms that have screened windows or air conditioning to reduce the chances of mosquito bites.
A Yellow Fever infection may be mild or severe. The incubation period ranges from three to six days. Mild symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, chills, nausea and vomiting, as well as headache, muscle, back and abdominal pain. This more common form of Yellow Fever typically lasts for three to four days.
However, approximately 15 percent of cases will progress to the severe form of this disease. The second phase of Yellow Fever causes high fevers to return, and it affects several body systems. Jaundice develops rapidly, along with abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach. Kidney function deteriorates, and fifty percent of the people that enter this second phase die within 10 to 14 days, since vaccination and medical treatment are not widely available in the developing world where the disease is endemic. Should you feel ill after a trip to a Yellow Fever endemic country, be sure to seek medical care immediately, and advise you healthcare provider of your travel itinerary.