What is Yellow fever?

Yellow fever, or Japanese encephalitis, is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. There are four different yellow fever viruses: A, B, C, and D.

Yellow fever is a serious infection that’s fatal if not treated quickly. The disease occurs in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and South America.

It’s transmitted by mosquitoes (particularly Aedes aegypti) and rarely transmitted by ticks, so it isn’t known to be transmitted by dogs or cats.

If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of yellow fever, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What are the symptoms of yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a serious infection. Symptoms can include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rash
  • Loss of appetite

The symptoms usually begin about 5 to 6 days after exposure to the virus.

Yellow fever can also cause severe respiratory symptoms, such as:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle pain

The symptoms of yellow fever can be like other conditions. Make sure to see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is yellow fever diagnosed?

A healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They may also ask you about your travel history and your activities during your trip.

A physical exam may be done. In some cases, imaging tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Imaging tests for yellow fever include:

  • Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to check the size and shape of the liver and kidneys.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. This test uses a series of X-rays and a computer to make detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging test uses large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to make detailed pictures of your organs and structures.

How is yellow fever treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment may include:

  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Rest
  • Pain medication

You can also take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to help with the fever and other symptoms.

How can I prevent yellow fever?

You can’t prevent yellow fever. But you can help prevent mosquito bites by:

  • Using insect repellent
  • Wearing long sleeves and long pants
  • Wearing mosquito netting
  • Using mosquito repellent

The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to avoid being outdoors in the areas where mosquitoes are known to live.

You can also use these measures to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Stay in the shade when spending time outdoors
  • Stay in the shade or keep your skin covered when spending time outdoors
  • Use nets when possible
  • Sleep under an insecticide-treated net
  • Avoid sitting in groups of people, especially outdoors
  • Avoid using public bathrooms

There’s an increased risk of contracting yellow fever if you travel to South America, Asia, or Africa.

If you do travel to these areas, you can reduce your risk of contracting yellow fever by:

  • Taking steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using repellent and wearing long sleeves and long pants
  • Wearing an insecticide-treated net
  • Avoiding sitting in groups of people
  • Avoiding swimming in areas where yellow fever is known to be present
  • Avoiding traveling to areas known to have yellow fever

What is the long-term outlook for people who have yellow fever?

Your outlook will depend on how severe the condition is. Your outlook depends on:

  • How quickly you receive treatment
  • How well you respond to treatment
  • Your overall health

A yellow fever vaccine is available. You can receive it as an injection.

There’s a vaccine for yellow fever that you can take as an injection.

If you’re exposed to yellow fever, you can reduce your risk of infection by:

  • Staying away from areas where yellow fever is known to be present
  • Staying indoors when possible
  • Moving to an area that has a lower risk of yellow fever

Can yellow fever be prevented?

Yellow fever is preventable. There are several ways to prevent yellow fever:

  • Avoid mosquito bites if possible
  • Avoid spending time outside in areas where mosquitoes are known to live
  • Use insect repellent
  • Use a mosquito net
  • Use mosquito repellent
  • Take steps to prevent mosquito bites and mosquito bites

When should I call my healthcare provider?

If you’re exposed to yellow fever, call your healthcare provider for advice.

Key points about yellow fever

  • Yellow fever is a viral infection that can be transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Yellow fever can cause high fever, muscle aches, and other symptoms.
  • Symptoms usually begin between 5 and 6 days after you’re exposed to yellow fever.
  • Treatment for yellow fever depends on how severe your condition is.


Yellow fever can be fatal if not treated right away.

It’s usually milder in adults than in children.

Images by Freepik

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