When people travel, they often wonder if there are diseases that they need to be worried about. After all, viruses, bacteria, and parasites can be different around the world.
Yellow fever is a condition that many people have heard of and wonder about when they travel. Here’s what travelers need to know about yellow fever prevention and risk factors before their trip.
Yellow fever is an RNA virus that causes a hemorrhagic disease. This can be quite acute, with a small percentage of people developing serious symptoms. Of those who get seriously ill, about half of them will die within 7-10 days of disease onset.
Yellow fever is most commonly spread via bites from infected mosquitoes. The bugs bite someone who is ill; the virus develops, then they bite a healthy person and pass it on.
Mosquitoes can also transmit the virus from some primates to humans, which is believed to be the origin of the virus in people.
To transmit the virus, the mosquito bites an infected person anytime from shortly before they show symptoms to five days afterward.
Since the virus incubates inside the human body for 3-6 days before symptoms develop. This means that a person can transmit the virus before they know they have it.
The virus can’t spread through the air, touching things an infected person touched, or being near them.
Yellow fever is called “yellow” because some people with the condition develop jaundice. This makes their skin and the whites of their eyes turn yellow.
There is the potential for yellow fever anywhere where there are mosquitoes. The virus is endemic in certain places in South America, Central America, and Africa.
It can be found in the Caribbean and near swamps in South America, where mosquitoes breed. It is also prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
In the past, yellow fever has traveled from endemic places to both Europe and North America. It has caused major outbreaks before containment occurred.
However, these areas have not had widespread outbreaks of Yellow Fever in many years. Now, it only affects people who live in or visit places where it is much more common.
Some people who get yellow fever will not have symptoms. While others will only get mild symptoms and will completely recover within just a few days.
However, in about 1 out of 7 people who get yellow fever, more serious symptoms will develop. Most of these people seem to get better, then suddenly get much sicker again. It can also lead to organ failure.
Mild symptoms of yellow fever include a sudden high fever accompanied by body-shaking chills. This may seem like it comes out of nowhere.
Many people will also experience significant to severe back pain, body aches, and headaches. These may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Some people feel tired and weak, too. While this usually resolves when the rest of the signs and symptoms go away. Some people feel weak and tired for weeks to months after infection.
If the more severe form of yellow fever appears, people may experience even more symptoms. Usually, their high fever and chills return, once again, as if out of nowhere.
Mostly, yellow fever is spread by mosquitos. However, it may result in the development of severe medical conditions. Sometimes, both the liver and kidneys tend to be affected.
The yellow fever virus can cause jaundice, as mentioned above. These organs may also start to shut down.
There are no specific treatments for yellow fever. In general, the body needs to fight off the infection before a person will feel better.
Travelers tend to be at an increased risk. Hence, they should take extra care or else try to avoid areas where yellow fever is prevalent.
Travelers should also drink lots of water, rest, and eat well. All of this will help the body more effectively fight off the virus.
If they are in pain or have a high fever that needs to come down, they can take some pain relievers and other medications, as directed by their doctor.
However, they should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like naproxen and ibuprofen. These can make any bleeding they experience even worse.
If there are any signs that the disease is progressing to the severe stage, the person needs to go to the hospital immediately.
Travelers suffering from yellow fever can receive a wide variety of treatments that will stop hemorrhaging and support any organs that are failing.
If the body can be supported long enough, the traveler’s body may be able to recover, and they can still beat the virus.
Travelers overseas should find the best hospital that they can get to quickly. High-quality hospital care can make a huge difference when it comes to survival rates for severe illness.
Travelers who can get vaccinated don’t have to be very concerned about yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine will protect them so they can enjoy their trip without any problems.
Most countries that have yellow fever endemic anywhere in the country require proof of vaccination. This makes travel even safer because everyone who comes in should be protected.
For the majority of individuals, a single dose of the yellow fever vaccine offers enduring protection. It eliminates the necessity for a booster dose of the vaccine.
People will need to check before they travel if they meet the yellow fever vaccine recommendations.
If they are unclear as to what is needed, they can usually search online. This way, they can find the answers they need.
People who cannot get vaccinated will need to weigh their decisions about travel carefully. They may choose to take the trip anyway while being on the lookout for the condition as they go.
They may also choose to travel but avoid trips that take them where the disease is more common or prevalent. They can still enjoy their time abroad without exposure.