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Yellow fever


Disease: Yellow fever Yellow fever
Category: Infectious diseases

Disease Definition:

Yellow fever is a hemorrhagic fever. It is caused by a virus that spreads through a particular species of mosquito. It’s most common in the regions of Africa and south America, where it affects travelers to and residents of these regions.


Yellow fever causes fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, in its mild cases.
Becoming more serious, yellow fever may cause bleeding (hemorrhaging), heart, liver and kidney problems. Almost 50% of people who have the severe form of yellow fever die of the disease.


Although there’s no specific treatment for yellow fever until now, but to protect themselves from the disease, travelers can get a yellow fever vaccine before traveling to an area in which the virus could exist.

Work Group:

Symptoms, Causes


During the incubation period, which is the first three to six days after a person has contracted yellow fever, he/she probably won’t experience any signs or symptoms. Then, the virus starts an acute phase and after that, in some cases, a toxic phase that can threaten the patient’s life.



When the yellow fever virus starts the acute phase , the patient may experience the following signs and symptoms :


  • Nausea, vomiting or both
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle aches, particularly in the back and knees
  • Red eyes, face or tongue


These symptoms usually improve and are gone in three or four days.



15% of people suffering from acute yellow fever enter a toxic phase, even though the signs and symptoms mentioned above disappear for a day or two following the acute phase.


During this phase, acute signs and symptoms return, in addition to more serious and life-threatening ones, such as:


  • Jaundice, where the patient’s skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting, in some cases blood.
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth and eyes
  • Kidney and liver failure
  • Heart dysfunction (arrhythmias)
  • Brain dysfunction including delirium, seizures and coma
  • Decreased urination


Almost 20 to 50% of those who start the toxic phase die of the disease. However, the rest generally recover without any significant problems.


A virus spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito causes yellow fever. Thriving in and near human habitations, these mosquitos breed even in the cleanest water. Tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa are where most cases of yellow fever occur, and monkey and humans are the most commonly infected with this virus.


The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes back and forth between humans, monkeys or both. The virus enters the mosquito’s bloodstream when it bites an infected human or monkey and circulates before settling in the salivary glands. So, when this infected mosquito bites another monkey or human, the virus enters the host’s bloodstream, where it may cause this serious illness.



20 to 50% of the people infected with yellow fever die, which occurs within 10 to 14 days from the start of the infection.
Jaundice, delirium, kidney and liver failure as well as coma are some of the complications that occur during the toxic phase of a yellow fever infection.


Some people who survive the infection usually recover gradually without significant organ damage. Fatigue and jaundice may be experienced during this time.
Some of the other complications may include secondary bacterial infections, such as pneumonia or blood infections.


Treatment for yellow fever primarily consists of supportive care in a hospital, because there are no antiviral medications that have proved helpful in treating this disease.


Maintaining adequate blood pressure, providing fluids and oxygen, providing dialysis for kidney failure, replacing blood loss and treating any other infections that may develop is included in supportive care.
In order to replace blood proteins that improve clotting, some people receive transfusions of plasma.


People should stay away from mosquitoes if they have yellow fever in order to avoid transmitting the disease to others.


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