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Yellow Fever – Another Way for Mosquitoes to Mess You Up

yellow fever information for travelers

If you have travel plans for South America or Sub-Saharan Africa, you have probably heard about Yellow Fever. Yet another in the long line of mosquito transmitted diseases, yellow fever is a disease which can truly mess you up if you don’t take the necessary steps for prevention. Named for the yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) that occur when you contract the disease, yellow fever can lead to organ failure and death in severe cases. Thankfully the disease is only spread via infected mosquitoes, so taking the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites and getting the yellow fever vaccine before traveling should allow for an enjoyable trip.

Transmission and Symptoms

Yellow fever is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes, most notably the Aedes aegypti which is a notorious disease spreading mosquito. These nasty bugs originated in Africa but now can be found all over the world in tropical regions. The disease is endemic in Africa, mainly near the equator, and tropical and subtropical regions of South America. The disease can be found in other tropical islands as well.

Symptoms of the disease can take around a week to appear and usually consist of headaches, vomiting, dehydration, fever and abdominal pain. In most cases these symptoms are treated as necessary and the person recovers in a few days to a week. Around 15% of cases turn severe, and this is where things get scary. Jaundice can occur, and it is often coupled with internal bleeding and organ failure. Of people whose cases become severe, between 15-50% are fatal.

Vaccination and Prevention

To keep yourself Yellow Fever free, you need to make sure that you get your vaccinations prior to traveling to areas where the disease is endemic. Many of the countries where the disease is endemic require vaccination prior to traveling into the country. The countries that require vaccination are as follows.

In Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierre Leone and Togo.

In South America: Bolivia and French Guyana.

It is highly recommended that you get your vaccination prior to traveling to any country that is in the endemic zone, which is Tropical and Sub-Tropical South America and Equatorial Africa. Here is a great map showing the different areas where yellow fever is endemic. It takes around 10 days for the vaccine to take full effect, so make sure that you are planning ahead and getting vaccinated in time.

Even with your vaccination, doing everything you can to avoid mosquito bites will help ensure that you stay yellow fever free on your trip. Using bug spray, wearing long clothing that covers the skin, and sleeping under a bed net at night are all helpful ways to protect yourself mosquitoes. No one likes the feeling of bug spray on their skin, and wearing long sleeve shirts and pants in tropical climates isn’t always the most comfortable option, but the advantages outweigh the draw backs.

Yellow fever is still a very dangerous disease that all travelers should be aware of. As always, stay safe, enjoy the world, and happy travels.

Photo credit : wiki commons.

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