What is Yellow fever and how can it be prevented?


Yellow fever is an infectious tropical virus disease that can be mild or severe. It is spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. The term yellow in the name refers to the jaundice that can occur.

Symptoms range from self-limiting fever to severe liver damage with bleeding. Although it is an important and potentially deadly human disease, the basis of its severity is not well understood.

Yellow fever kills up to 50% of people who do not receive the vaccine. In 32 African countries and 13 South American countries, the virus is either endemic or causes intermittent outbreaks.

A safe and highly effective vaccine prevents yellow fever. Yellow fever is known to be present in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South America. If you live in one of these areas, talk to your doctor about whether you need the yellow fever vaccine. If you plan to travel in these areas, talk with your doctor at least 10 days, but preferably three to four weeks, before your trip begins.

A single dose of the yellow fever vaccine provides protection for at least 10 years. Side effects are usually mild, lasting five to 10 days, and may include headaches, low-grade fevers, muscle pain, fatigue and soreness at the site of injection. More-significant reactions — such as developing a syndrome similar to actual yellow fever, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or death — can occur, most often in infants and older adults. The vaccine is considered safest for those between the ages of 9 months and 60 years.

Talk to your doctor about whether the yellow fever vaccine is appropriate if your child is younger than 9 months, if you have a weakened immune system, or if you're older than 60 years....

According to Mayo Clinic, you can help protect yourself against yellow fever by protecting yourself against mosquitoes. To reduce your exposure to mosquitoes, you can do the following:

(1) Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active (especially during dusk to dawn).

(2) Cover your arms and legs, by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you go into mosquito-infested areas.

(3) Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing.

(4) Use bed nets that have been pre-treated with insecticide to offer additional protection....