Yellow Fever is a potentially fatal, vaccine-preventable disease caused by A flavivirus. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow Fever gets its name from the yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) that occurs when the virus attacks the liver.
What are the symptoms of Yellow Fever?
Most people who get Yellow Fever will experience three or four days of fever, chills, aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite, after which they will fully recover.
About 15 percent of people who have this fever will enter a second, more serious phase that is characterized by fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, dehydration, listlessness, jaundice, kidney failure, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, or eyes. Up to half of these people die. Survivors, however, will have no long-term organ damage or other ill effects.
How can I get Yellow Fever?
You can get Yellow Fever if you are bitten by an infected Aedes or Haemogogus mosquito. These mosquitoes breed in urban, rural, and jungle environments in Africa and South America.
Where can I get Yellow Fever?
Yellow Fever is present in equatorial Africa and in some parts of Central and South America. Your risk of becoming infected depends on your time of travel, itinerary, and length of stay. Your risk is higher if you are travelling through or staying in rural or jungle areas or taking part in outdoor activities like camping, hiking, or cycling.
In Africa risk is elevated from the end of the rainy season to the beginning of the dry season (from July through October). In South America risk is highest during the rainy season (from January through May). However, Yellow Fever can be transmitted year round.
Because monkeys can be infected with this fever as well, the virus is endemic in rural and jungle areas. An epidemic can eventually start if people who have been bitten by infected mosquitoes while in the jungle return to an urban area and are then bitten by other, previously uninfected mosquitoes.
When there are no epidemics, Yellow Fever is rare in urban environments. Travellers who will be staying in major urban areas are at low risk of becoming infected with this fever.
What vaccines are available for Yellow Fever?
The YF-VAX vaccine is available in Canada from designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centers. To ensure full protection, you should get this vaccine at least 10 days before you enter a yellow-fever endemic area.
You will need a Yellow Fever vaccine if you are travelling to a country that requires you to have an International Certificate of Vaccination before entry. As a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Center, TMVC can provide you with this certification.
The vaccine is recommended for other destinations where there is a risk of Yellow Fever.
How many shots will I need?
The Yellow Fever vaccine is given in a single shot.
Will I need a booster?
Booster recommendations have recently changed. The vaccine is now considered effective lifelong. However, international health regulations and border requirements have not consistently changed yet. The new recommendations are expected to be accepted world wide mid 2016. Until then, you may still need to provide proof of vaccination within the 10 year time frame.
How can I prevent Yellow Fever?
Consult with your travel medicine provider to determine if vaccination for Yellow Fever is required or recommended for your travel plans.
In addition to being vaccinated for Yellow Fever, avoid mosquito bites by using insecticide aerosol sprays and insect repellents containing at least 30% DEET and taking other preventive measures such as limiting your outdoor activities and wearing permethrin-treated clothing. Mosquitoes carrying this fever tend to bite during daylight hours, but they will bite at night when they are under artificial light.
Use additional protective measures for infants and children such as self-standing mosquito nets that can be placed over a car seat, crib, playpen, or stroller.
What is the treatment for Yellow Fever?
There is no specific treatment for Yellow Fever.
Find out more information on Yellow Fever from our Vancouver Travel Clinic or any of our other 18 Travel Clinic locations.