Yellow fever is caused by specific viruses transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes.
Factors that may increase your chance of yellow fever include:
Yellow fever symptoms appear within a week after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Typically, acute phase symptoms will persist for 3-4 days, and then disappear. A small percentage of people progress into the toxic phase. The toxic phase symptoms begin within 24 hours of the end of the acute phase. Recovery from yellow fever provides lifetime immunity from the disease.
Acute phase symptoms may include:
Toxic phase symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical and travel history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will be needed for diagnosis. Antibodies for the virus may be detected in the blood.
Currently, medications or treatments specifically for yellow fever are not available. However, there are treatments that that can be given at a hospital to ease some symptoms of yellow fever.
It is important to keep the body hydrated. Fluids containing electrolytes may be given orally or through an IV to prevent dehydration.
In toxic phases, dialysis may be needed to help the kidneys filter waste.
In toxic phase cases, a transfusion may be needed to replace blood cells and clotting agents lost through bleeding.
Fighting yellow fever may cause the immune system to become temporarily weak. A weak immune system cannot guard against bacterial infections as it normally would, so infections occur more easily. Antibiotics may be given to fight bacterial infections if they occur. Antibiotics cannot be given to treat yellow fever because yellow fever is a virus, and viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for those who are traveling to or living in areas where the disease is present. Ask your doctor if the vaccine is right for you.
Other ways to reduce your chances of getting yellow fever:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Walker KR, Joy TK, Ellers-Kirk C, Ramberg FB. Human and environmental factors affecting Aedes aegypti distribution in an arid urban environment. J Am Mosq Control Assoc. 2011;27(2):135-141.
Yellow fever. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/index.html. Updated December 13, 2011. Accessed June 2, 2015.
Yellow fever. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114530/Yellow-fever. Updated June 20, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2016.
Yellow fever VIS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/yf.html. Updated June 18, 2013. Accessed June 2, 2015.
Last reviewed May 2016 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.