Yellow fever

Definition

Yellow fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes.

Causes

Yellow fever is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes. You can develop this disease if you are bitten by a mosquito infected with this virus.

This disease is common in South America and in sub-Saharan Africa.

Anyone can get yellow fever, but older people have a higher risk of severe infection.

If a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms usually develop 3 to 6 days later.

Symptoms

Yellow fever has 3 stages:

Symptoms may include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical examination and order blood tests. These blood tests may show liver and kidney failure and evidence of shock.

It is important to tell your provider if you have traveled to areas where the disease is known to thrive. Blood tests can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. Treatment is supportive and focuses on:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Yellow fever can cause severe problems, including internal bleeding. Death is possible.

Possible Complications

Complications that may result include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

See a provider at least 10 to 14 days before traveling to an area where yellow fever is common to find out whether you should be vaccinated against the disease.

Tell your provider right away if you or your child develops fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or jaundice, especially if you have traveled to an area where yellow fever is common.

Prevention

There is an effective vaccine against yellow fever. Ask your provider at least 10 to 14 days before traveling if you should be vaccinated against yellow fever. Some countries require proof of vaccination to gain entry.

If you will be traveling to an area where yellow fever is common:


Review Date: 11/9/2019
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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