When traveling to certain countries, one of the things that one is required to do is to have a yellow fever vaccine. This is because people not native to the areas where yellow fever is common, are more likely to have a severe, more deadly form of the infection.
An estimated two hundred thousand people a year are infected with yellow fever worldwide and from among these; as many as thirty thousand succumb to the illness and die.
Yellow fever is a tropical and subtropical infection that is found in Africa and Latin America. This is a disease transmitted to human beings by infected mosquitoes and is an acute viral hemorrhagic fever.
The reason that is known as ‘Yellow’ fever is because it can sometimes lead to jaundice in some cases. Yellow fever is an extremely dangerous infectious disease because 50% of those that are infected severely die from it.
Yellow fever can be difficult to diagnose and its symptoms can sometimes be confused with malaria, typhoid, hepatitis[hepatitis symptoms] and dengue in the early stages. The chief symptoms of yellow fever are fever accompanied by shivering, muscle pain, head and back ache, nausea, and loss of appetite.
This is the acute phase which lasts for 3 to 4 days after the incubation period, which is 3 to 6 days after the actual infection. For the most part, symptoms disappear after the acute phase however about 15% of sufferers progress to what is known as a toxic phase which affects several parts of the body and the patient develops jaundice.
Yellow fever is hemorrhagic and in this second phase may cause bleeding from the nose, mouth, stomach and even eyes! A person may excrete or vomit blood. As many as half the people who enter this second, toxic phase die from yellow fever.
There is no specific or particular treatment available for yellow fever, and it is a disease that, in many cases will cure itself in time so long as the symptoms and possible dehydration are kept within check. Sometimes there could be bacterial infections that could arise as a result of yellow fever in which case antibiotics are prescribed.
In the case of yellow fever it is very much a case of prevention being better than cure and vaccination is the most effective way to prevent this infection. It is the recommendation of the World Health Organization that 60% to 80% of a population ought to be vaccinated against a possible outbreak of the disease and vaccination provides immunity of up to thirty five years.
The WHO recommends that the following groups should not be vaccinated against yellow fever:
- A child below the age of 9 months should not be vaccinated
- Pregnant women should not be vaccinated except in the case of an outbreak
- Those that have a severe allergy to egg protein should not get the vaccine that may contain the egg protein
- People whose immunity is compromised or those that have HIV or AIDS.