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Yellow Fever

more about Yellow Fever


  • Yellow fever is a viral disease (Flaviviridae, an RNA arbovirus) transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes (Aedes africanus, aegypti, Haemagogus).  It usually occurs in Africa and South America.  When an infected mosquito bites someone who has the disease, it spreads it to the next host who it feeds on.  Symptoms usually develop 3-6 days after the bite.

  • Symptoms can be mild or severe
    1. Mild symptoms include fatigue, headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light.  Occasionally, some patients develop Slow Heart Rate.
    2. Severe symptoms develop in about 15% of infected patients.  Initially, the symptoms are similar to those listed above.  Patients feel better after about 3 days.  This is followed by the development of more severe symptoms, such as high fever, Slow Heart Rate, Low Blood Pressure, jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the skin and eyes), bleeding from the intestine or mouth, and confusion.  Occasionally, patients may even go into coma.

  • The cause is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes.  This virus multiplies in the human body and causes the symptoms of the disease.

  • A diagnosis is made by blood tests used to detect antibodies to the virus.
  • Other lab tests show low white blood cell count (on the CBC and differential), loss of protein in the urine (on the Urinalysis), elevation of liver function tests (AST, ALT, Bilirubin), and thinning of the blood (elevation of PT, PTT, and clotting time parameters).

  • There is no specific treatment for the virus, so the goal of the treatment is to manage the symptoms and complications associated with the disease.

  • Prevention of the infection is the main key to controlling this disease.  Eradication of the virus is very difficult, and emphasis must be placed on mosquito control.
  • If you plan to travel to areas where the virus is common, very effective vaccinations are available to help prevent infection.  These vaccinations should be obtained prior to travel to the affected areas.  Pregnant women cannot be given this vaccination, and consequently should probably avoid traveling such areas.





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