Yellow fever is a viral infection that is passed to humans by day time biting Aedes mosquitoes. It is called this because one of the symptoms is jaundice, which can make the skin and whites of the eyes appear yellow. In the past it was an important tropical disease and epidemics decimated armies and had a huge impact on American ports like countries with yellow fever Philadelphia, New Orleans and Memphis. Some people call it 'American Plague'.
Yellow fever is what is called an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The host that is the most common infector is the mosquito, as the other only known host are primates--and we hope not many people are suffering monkey bites in this day and age. The aforementioned symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg as once the disease passes this stage the real problems begin to occur. These changes can be avoided by a yellow fever vaccination.
Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus and prevalent in many Caribbean, African, South and Central American countries. The "yellow" in the name refers to the jaundice-like symptoms that affect some sufferers. Symptoms include fever and flu-like illnesses, jaundice, vomiting blood, liver, kidney, respiratory and other organ failure that can easily lead to death. Yellow fever has been the source of numerous devastating epidemics resulting in catastrophic causalities. One such deadly outbreak happened in 1802 when the disease struck French soldiers during the Haitian Revolution.
Infected individuals suffer fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, nausea and fatigue. This disease gets its name as some people with severe infections develop jaundice, when their eyes and skin turn yellow. All of these symptoms are non-specific, meaning that they can occur in many other diseases also. Many people with this disease may have only a mild illness that can be mistaken for a simple 'flu'. Some people may have no symptoms at all. This disease can progress to a severe illness with life threatening complications. After a person recovers, they are generally immune to the disease.
Yellow fever vaccine is administered for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is to protect travelers from the infection. Secondly, many countries require travelers to be vaccinated, not for the travelers' health, but to protect their citizens in case you are infected. This requirement is generally enforced if you are traveling from a yellow fever region and are entering a new country. Those who are unvaccinated or have no proof of vaccination can expect to be turned away at the border. While being denied entry on arrival may generate some excitement, this is not our idea of adventure travel!
Travel doctors follow yellow fever disease trends worldwide and can advise you whether a YF vaccination is necessary. Remember, YF vaccine can only be given by a medical professional who has been certified to administer this injection. You will receive an official stamped paper documenting proof of vaccination. Immunity after YF vaccination lasts 10 years. Since the vaccine contains live virus, there are some individuals who should not receive it. Your travel medicine physician will discuss this with you. Ideally, YF vaccine should be administered at least 10 days before arrival to a yellow fever region.
Yellow fever vaccine, a safe and effective live virus vaccine, is administered to millions of people today. This does not make healthy people sick because the virus has been altered so that it cannot cause disease. Side effects are rare.
Yellow fever can be prevented by vaccination. Travelers ought to also take precautions against mosquito bites when in areas with yellow fever transmission.Travelers ought to get vaccinated for yellow fever before visiting areas where the disease occurs. In the U.S, the vaccine is given solely at selected yellow fever vaccination centers.