What is Yellow Fever ?
Yellow fever (YF) is a serious illness caused by the YF virus. It is one of the viral haemorrhagic fevers. YF is passed on to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is not contagious; one person cannot catch YF directly from another person. YF can vary from a flu-like illness that gets better on its own over several days to a severe illness with organ failure and death.
Symptoms of YF may include:
• Fever, muscle aches and pains, and headache
• Nausea and vomiting
• Jaundice (turning yellow)
• Liver, kidney and lung failure
There is no specific medicine to treat YF. Most people with the disease will need to be admitted to hospital and treated for their symptoms, some in intensive care. Many people who get YF will die from the disease.
Where does yellow fever occur ?
YF occurs in tropical parts of South America and Africa (see maps on last page). Although most cases occur in the countryside, it can also occur in cities, particularly in parts of West Africa. The World Health Organization reports about 1,500 cases each year in South America and Africa, although it is likely that many more occur, but do not get reported.
How can I prevent yellow fever ?
There are two ways to prevent YF:
• Prevent mosquito bites.
• Get the YF vaccine at least 10 days before you travel.
We advise travellers to YF areas to do both of these.
Mosquito Bites: Mosquitoes that transmit YF tend to bite during the daytime, particularly in the hours after dawn and before dusk. Ways of preventing bites are:
• Cover-up as much as possible with loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
• Apply insect repellents, ideally containing 30-50% DEET, to exposed areas of skin.
• Apply an insecticide such as permethrin to clothing, which will kill mosquitoes on contact. Permethrin should not be used directly on the skin.
Yellow Fever Vaccine: The vaccine against YF has been used for more than 60 years. It works very well and lasts for a long period of time. Most people do not have any problems with the vaccine. Vaccination can only be given in approved YF vaccination centres (YFVCs). The York Medical Practice is a registered Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre
YF vaccine must be given 10 days or more before your trip to be effective and to be officially accepted by the country to which you are travelling. Travellers who are leaving sooner than the 10 day interval should discuss with their YFVC whether to get YF vaccine. You must carry your Certificate of Vaccination with you during travel. It is an official record of your vaccination and may be requested by immigration officials. The York Medical Practice will provide you with this certificate.
Where can I get more information about yellow fever and yellow fever vaccine?
• NaTHNaC, Yellow fever information sheet:
• World Health Organization, Yellow fever fact sheet: