What is yellow fever?
Yellow fever is a viral infection Overview of Viral Infections A virus is a tiny living organism. Viruses are so small they can be seen only with the most powerful microscopes. That's why they're called microorganisms (micro means very small). Other common... read more spread by mosquitoes.
You get yellow fever from being bitten by an infected mosquito
Mosquitoes in tropical areas of central Africa, Central America, and South America carry yellow fever
It causes headache, dizziness, muscle aches, and fever
Sometimes, your skin and eyes turn yellow (jaundice Jaundice in Adults Jaundice is a yellow color to your skin and the whites of your eyes. Jaundice is caused by a buildup of a substance called bilirubin Bilirubin is a yellow substance your body makes when it breaks... read more ) because the disease affects your liver
Yellow fever can be deadly if it severely affects your internal organs
The best ways to prevent yellow fever are by getting the vaccine (shot) and avoiding mosquito bites
What causes yellow fever?
Yellow fever is caused by a virus. The virus is carried by certain animals that live in tropical areas of South America and Africa. When mosquitoes bite an infected animal or person, they pick up the virus and give it to the next person they bite.
What are the symptoms of yellow fever?
Some people don’t have any symptoms.
Early symptoms include:
Sudden headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches
Feeling weak and dizzy
Feeling sick to your stomach and throwing up
These symptoms go away after a few days. Most people have no more symptoms and recover from yellow fever. Other people get more serious symptoms.
In severe cases, the virus can affect many of your organs, including your liver, kidneys, and heart. Later symptoms of yellow fever include:
Throwing up blood
Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
Bleeding from your nose, mouth, or intestines
Dangerously low blood pressure
Seizures and coma (in severe illness)
How can doctors tell if I have yellow fever?
Doctors suspect yellow fever if you have symptoms and have been in an area where there are cases of yellow fever. To know for sure, they’ll do blood tests.
How do doctors treat yellow fever?
There's no cure for yellow fever. Doctors will treat your symptoms and give you:
Fluids by vein to keep your blood pressure up
Medicines to treat or stop bleeding, such as vitamin K, which helps your blood to clot
Sometimes, put you on a machine to take over for your kidneys (dialysis Dialysis Dialysis is an artificial process for removing waste products and excess fluids from the body, a process that is needed when the kidneys are not functioning properly. There are a number of reasons... read more ) and remove waste from your body
Keep you in a room that is screened and sprayed with bug spray to prevent mosquitoes from spreading the virus to other people
How can I prevent yellow fever?
Avoid mosquito bites
If you live in or visit areas with yellow fever, take steps to avoid mosquito bites:
Put bug spray with DEET on your skin
Spray or soak your clothes with an insect repellent containing permethrin
Use mosquito nets
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Avoid going outside if you don't have to
Get the vaccine if you're going to an area with yellow fever
A vaccine is available to prevent yellow fever and should be taken 3 to 4 weeks before you go.
In the United States, the yellow fever vaccine is given at travel medicine clinics, located throughout the country
Most people can get the vaccine, with the exception of babies younger than 6 months old, pregnant women, or people with weak immune systems Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more —talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine