Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a serious disease caused by a virus spread by Aedes and Haemagogus mosquitoes that bite during the day. They live in both populated places (around houses) and in jungles and forests so it’s very difficult to avoid them. The mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected primates (people, apes, monkeys) and then can transmit the virus to other primates.

If you get infected, you may not experience any symptoms but you may develop fever, muscle ache, headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting. These symptoms appear within six days of being infected and disappear after three to four days.

Some people go on to develop much more severe symptoms within 24 hours of the initial phase. Just as it seems that the disease is on its way out, high fever returns and usually the liver and the kidneys are attacked by the virus. It causes jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), which gives the disease its name, dark urine, vomiting and tummy ache. There may also be bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach. Out of all patients who develop these symptoms, about a half of them die. 

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever but you should always see a doctor to determine the best course of action. The milder symptoms can be treated at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, a nutritious plant-based diet and common painkillers if required. The more severe symptoms usually need hospital care or emergency treatment.

Yellow fever does not spread by person-to-person contact, the only exception being the use of contaminated needles. The best yellow fever prevention is getting vaccinated as you only need a single dose and it provides life-long protection. You can also lower your risk of mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and using mosquito repellents. If you sleep during the day, use mosquito nets.