Definition

Yellow fever is a viral disease.

Causes

An infected mosquito passes the virus to you through a bite on your skin.

Mosquito Bite

Mosquito bite
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Risk Factors

Your risk may be higher if you:

  • Live, work, or travel to regions where yellow fever is common
  • Do not take preventive steps such as getting a vaccine or protecting yourself against mosquitoes

Symptoms

Symptoms appear within a week after a mosquito bite. The acute phase lasts 3-4 days, then symptoms go away. Some people progress to the toxic phase. This starts within 24 hours of the end of the first phase. Recovery will provide lifetime protection against yellow fever.

Some people may not have symptoms. If they appear, they may include:

Acute phase:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Backache
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

Toxic phase:

  • High fever
  • Belly pain
  • Bleeding from the gums, nose, eyes, or stomach
  • Vomit that appears black (caused by bleeding)
  • Yellowing of the skin—jaundice
  • Confusion
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. You will also have:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood tests to detect antibodies

Treatment

Care may start in a hospital. There are no medicines to treat yellow fever. The goal of care is to ease symptoms. Care may include:

  • Fluids by mouth or through an IV to prevent dehydration
  • Medicines to lower your fever
  • Dialysis (toxic phase) to help your kidneys filter waste
  • Transfusion (toxic phase) to replace blood products lost through bleeding

Hemodialysis

Dialysis pump
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Prevention

If you live in or are traveling to an area where yellow fever is common, talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine.

In addition:

  • Stay in places with screens or air conditioning.
  • Cover your skin with long clothes, socks, and shoes.
  • Use bug sprays that contain DEET.
  • Use mosquito netting treated with bug spray.
  • Keep in mind mosquitoes are more active during early morning, late afternoon, and early evening.
  • Tip out standing water in buckets, flower pots, or other containers. Mosquitoes breed in standing water.