Symptoms and Treatment
for Yellow Fever

What is Yellow Fever?

As a mosquito-borne illness, yellow fever is a viral infection that’s most common in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. Mosquitos carrying the yellow fever virus thrive in and around places humans reside, and breed in even the cleanest water. After a single bite from one of these mosquitoes, yellow fever can enter into the bloodstream of any traveler or resident to these areas. And although many people with yellow fever won’t experience any symptoms, it can cause illnesses ranging from a fever with aches and pains to severe heart, liver, and kidney problems — sometimes with hemorrhaging. Because yellow fever doesn’t have a cure or a specific treatment, it’s crucial to take proper preventive measures before traveling to areas of the world where it’s common.

What are the symptoms of yellow fever?

Most people with yellow fever won’t have any symptoms. But after the first three to six days of becoming infected, you may experience a sudden onset fever with muscle aches — particularly in your back and knees — headache, sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, or red eyes, face, or tongue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of seven people who have initial symptoms will have a very brief remission, followed by more severe symptoms. These severe symptoms can include a high fever; yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice); abdominal pain and vomiting (sometimes of blood); decreased urination; bleeding from your nose, mouth, and eyes; slow heart rate; liver and kidney failure; brain dysfunction (including delirium); seizures, and coma. The severe phase of yellow fever can be deadly — and it’s crucial to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you experience these symptoms.

How does ID Care diagnose yellow fever?

To diagnose yellow fever, an ID Care specialist will ask about your medical and travel history before a physical exam addressing your signs and symptoms. Because yellow fever can be confused with other mosquito-borne infectious diseases such as malaria or West Nile Virus, the most accurate way to diagnose it is through a blood test.

How does ID Care treat yellow fever?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any antiviral medications to treat or cure yellow fever. Rest, fluids, pain relievers, and other medicines to reduce fever and relieve aches is the most common course of action. However, people with severe yellow fever should be hospitalized for close observation.

How can I prevent yellow fever?

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to prevent yellow fever. If you are traveling to the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, talk to an ID Travel Care expert about our highly effective yellow fever vaccine. In some countries, you’ll need this vaccination in order to enter. In addition to the vaccine, protecting yourself against mosquitos can protect you against yellow fever. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when going into mosquito-infested areas, stay in well-screened housing, use bed nets, wear permethrin-containing mosquito repellent on your clothing, and DEET repellent on your skin.

SOURCES: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Mayo Clinic