Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes that is caused by a small virus that is spread by the bite of mosquitoes. This disease is mostly common in South America and in sub-Saharan Africa.

Anyone can get yellow fever, but the elderly have a higher risk of severe infection.

If a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms usually develop 3 to 6 days later.

Yellow fever has three stages:

Early stage: Headache, muscle and joint aches, fever, flushing, loss of appetite, vomiting, and jaundice are common. After approximately 3 to 4 days, often symptoms go away briefly; Period of remission: After 3 to 4 days, fever and other symptoms go away. Most people will recover at this stage, but others may move onto the third, most dangerous stage within 24 hours. Period of intoxication: Multi-organ malfunction occurs. This may include heart, liver, and kidney failure, bleeding disorders, hemorrhage, and brain dysfunction including delirium, seizures, coma, shock, and death.

Most people get better after the first stage of symptoms. About 15 % of patients move on to the next stage of the disease which is more serious and life threatening. Travelers to South America and Africa are at high risk of getting yellow fever. About 50 in 100,000 people die from yellow fever in West Africa. During the rainy season in South America the risk is higher because of the increased numbers of mosquitoes which carry this disease.

In Africa where it is most common in unvaccinated young men who spend a lot of time in areas with a large number or mosquitoes. Natural immunity is acquired with age therefore children are much more susceptible to this disease.

For travelers to countries with high malaria infestations the risk depends on vaccination history, the period spent in that country. Symptoms include: Arrhythmias, heart dysfunction, bleeding (may progress to hemorrhage), coma, decreased urination, delirium, fever, headache, jaundice, muscle aches (myalgia), red eyes, face, tongue, seizures, vomiting, vomiting blood. If you have any of the following symptoms you should see a doctor, as the disease can advance and cause more serious problems. Blood tests are usually done to diagnose yellow fever.

No treatment has been found for yellow fever besides rest, fluids, and use of analgesics and antipyretics to relive the symptoms of fever and aching. Infected persons should be protected from further mosquito bites. You can prevent is by limiting your exposure to mosquitoes. Wearing long clothes that cover most of you body is highly recommended. Insect repellant is mandatory in areas where mosquitoes are known to be present.

A vaccine against yellow fever also exists. Anyone who is nine months or older and will travel to an area where yellow fever is known to be present should be vaccinated. Some countries even require proof of yellow fever vaccination for entry. There are some side effects to this vaccine therefore people only truly at risk of getting yellow fever should be vaccinated.

The vaccine is not indicated for infants who are 9 months or younger, people who have acute hypersensitivity, immunosuppresion, history of Thymus disease, adults 60 years of older.

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