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Yellow Fever

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Yellow Fever Symptoms continued...

The next phase is remission, which lasts for 48 hours. Patients improve. The majority recover.

Unfortunately, a third, more toxic phase of infection occurs for 15% of patients. Ultimately, a condition called viral hemorrhagic fever can develop, with internal bleeding (hemorrhaging), high fever, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and circulatory system. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 50% of people worldwide who reach this severe phase of infection die, while half recover.

The third-phase symptoms of yellow fever are:

  • Jaundice (liver damage), which causes yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Internal bleeding (hemorrhaging)
  • Vomiting blood
  • Shock
  • Multisystem organ failure leading to death

 

How Is Yellow Fever Diagnosed?

Yellow fever is diagnosed by your symptoms, recent travel activity, and blood tests. Yellow fever symptoms can mimic symptoms of other tropical disease such as malaria and typhoid, so call your doctor if you have symptoms of yellow fever and have recently traveled to a high-risk country.

How Is Yellow Fever Treated?

Since there is no cure for the viral infection itself, medical treatment of yellow fever focuses on easing symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, and dehydration. Because of the risk of internal bleeding, avoid aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs if you suspect you have yellow fever. Hospitalization is often needed.

Yellow Fever Prevention Through Vaccination

Because there is no cure for yellow fever, prevention is critical. The yellow fever vaccine is advised for adults and children over age 9 months who are traveling to or living in countries with a known risk of yellow fever. Certain countries in Africa and Latin America with the highest risk of exposure to yellow fever now require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing you to travel there. 

Travel medicine clinics and state or local health departments usually offer the vaccine, which needs to be repeated every 10 years for people traveling to high-risk areas. These approved vaccination centers also provide you with the International Certificate of Vaccination that you'll need to enter certain at-risk countries. 

Call your doctor right away if you develop a fever, flu-like symptoms, or other unusual signs after taking the vaccine.The yellow fever vaccine, in a few rare cases, has caused an allergic reaction, nervous system reaction, and life-threatening illness.

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