ABC Guide to Travel Health - Vaccines, Vaccinations

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Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a serious infection caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Although some infections are asymptomatic, most lead to an acute illness of varying severity. Initially, there is fever, muscular pain, headache, chills, loss of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting. About 15% of patients progress to a second phase with resurgence of fever, development of jaundice (yellowing of skin), abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding. Half of these patients die 10-14 days after onset of illness.56 There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, and the disease can often be fatal in non-indigenous people.

Yellow fever is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Geographical distribution56
The disease is endemic in some tropical areas of Africa and central and south America.

See yellow fever distribution map 1

See yellow fever distribution map 2

Risk to travellers56
Travellers are at risk in all areas where yellow fever is endemic. The risk is greatest for visitors who enter forest and jungle areas.

Precautions and prevention56

  • Vaccination. Travellers should be vaccinated if they visit a country where there is a risk of exposure to yellow fever. An International Certification of Vaccination is compulsory for entry into some countries. This includes entry into Yellow Fever non-infected countries if the traveller has visited a Yellow Fever infected country. (See your doctor.)
  • Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites at all times while in endemic areas. Please follow precautions under Insect avoidance.

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