Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever

yellow fever
yellow fever

What is Yellow Fever?

It is an acute viral hemorrhagic infection and has been traced back as far as four hundred years ago. It was also the reason behind a large epidemic in Africa. It has been known as Yellow Jack. It is usually found in subtropical and tropical areas in Africa and South America. Anyone can contact this disease but the elderly are the ones that have the higher risk of getting a severe infection. The people who are mainly at risk for contacting Yellow Fever are the people who in live in areas that are populated by mosquitoes who are infected already with the disease and are not vaccinated for it. Each year according to the World Health Organization there are approximately two hundred thousand people infected and approximately thirty thousand people die from this disease.

Symptoms of Yellow Fever

Although Yellow Fever can start quickly the symptoms of Yellow Fever will usually appear in three to six days after being infected. Initially the signs are similar to the flu. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pains and joint aches
  • Jaundice—this is yellowing of your eyes and skin
  • Bleeding that could lead to hemorrhaging
  • Red face, tongue, and eyes or flushing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dysfunction of the brain
  • Urination that decreases
  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Vomiting blood
  • Irregular heart beats

Yellow fever happens in stages which are:

Stage 1

This is the infection or acute stage when most of the symptoms are common and will usually go away for a brief period of time after three to four days.

Stage 2

This is the remission stage and when the symptoms and fever disappear. This is the stage when most people will recover but there are some that might get worse within twenty-four hours.
Stage 3

This is the intoxication stage and is the most serious stage. This is when many problems with your organs happen. Approximately fifteen percent of people who have this disease get to this stage. Some of these problems can include bleeding disorders, kidney, hear, and liver failure, coma, delirium, and seizures. This is also the stage of the disease that is often fatal.


The main cause of this disease is a bite from an infected mosquito. The mosquito becomes infected with the Yellow Fever virus by feeding on infected primates whether the primate is non-human or human. If a human is infected with this disease and is bitten by a mosquito, the disease can be transferred to the mosquito either shortly before the person has the fever or for three to five days after the person gets the disease. The disease is only transmitted by the female mosquito. Yellow Fever cannot be spread directly from one person to another person.


When a person contacts Yellow Fever there is no cure and only the symptoms can be treated. A physician will do their best to support your body’s ability to fight the infection by:

  • Making sure your body has enough fluids and oxygen. If necessary a person may be hospitalized to receive fluids intravenously.
  • Making sure that your blood pressure is adequate
  • Blood transfusions if they are needed
  • If your body suffers kidney failure, doing dialysis
  • If any other infections happen the physician will make sure that they are treating those infections.
  • To help correct the problems that fever and dehydration can cause can be corrected by Paracetamol, which is an over-the-counter fever and pain reliever, or salts taken orally that will help to rehydrate your body.

Yellow Fever vaccination

If you are going to living or working in an area where there is a possibility that you could be bitten by an infected mosquito and contact Yellow Fever you should make sure that you get a Yellow Fever vaccination. This vaccination will give you protection for thirty to thirty-five years, sometimes even longer. This vaccination is safe but there is a chance that you might have some side effects. Getting this vaccination is a very important preventive measure and the benefits outweigh the side effects.

The vaccination was discovered in 1937 by Max Theiler and has been used since 1950. The cost for this vaccination is minimal and contains a reduced strength of the virus. When you get the vaccination you will get a certificate showing you have had it. It becomes valid ten days after you are vaccinated. The certificate is good for ten years after you will need a booster vaccination. You become immune to Yellow Fever within seven days after being vaccinated.

To be granted entry into certain countries being vaccinated is mandatory. Infants and women who are breast-feeding or pregnant should be exempted from being vaccinated. It is advisable if you are in any of these above groups that you postpone your travel to these areas. The age groups that should be vaccinated include people nine months to fifty-nine years of age. Also, any health care worker who works in a lab and handle the urine/blood samples of ones that have diagnosed with having Yellow Fever should be vaccinated.

Side effects of Yellow Fever vaccination

The side effects of being vaccinated against Yellow Fever are classified into two categories which are:

Mild side effects

Approximately twenty-five percent of the people vaccinated may suffer from body aches, headaches, fatigue, soreness, or mild to high fevers. Where the shot is given you may see some swelling or redness. Usually all of these side effects disappear in a week.

Severe side effects

Approximately one in fifty-five thousand people may develop a severe allergic reaction to what the vaccine is made of, which is mostly egg. If you have an allergy to chicken proteins, gelatin, or eggs you need to talk to your doctor before you get the vaccination. Other signs of a severe reaction can include having behavioral changes, trouble breathing, hives, wheezing or hoarseness, a fast heart beat, paleness, weakness, or feeling dizzy. Any signs of a serious reaction will usually happen with a minutes to several hours after being vaccinated.

Approximately one in two hundred fifty thousand people may suffer organ failure in which getting a vaccination could be fatal to fifty percent of these people. If you have any immune-compromising diseases such as AIDS, you should talk to your physician before getting the vaccination. You should know that the vaccination will not treat an active infection of Yellow Fever that is already developing in your body. If you have a serious reaction to this vaccination you do not want to get a booster shot.

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