Cases of yellow fever had traditionally been rare for international travellers. However, a surge of reported travel-associated cases in both 2017 and 2018 has brought the disease back into focus for those looking to travel to popular destinations in Africa and South America. If you are backpacking, cruising, or perhaps taking a city break with friends, you need to be aware to help you stay healthy.

It is important to take a break, so before booking flights for your next trip, what do you need to know about this relatively unknown disease?  

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a viral disease which is transmitted through several different species of mosquito. The virus is most prevalent in tropical areas of Africa, Central and South America. It’s also found in parts of the Caribbean.

The mosquitoes that spread the infection are most active in towns and rural areas. The consequences for those that contract the disease are can be extremely serious, possibly resulting in death.     

Symptoms of Yellow Fever

Whilst some travellers may not experience any symptoms, those that do all tend to exhibit similar ailments. They include:

  • A high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • Eyesight being sensitive to light
  • Loss of appetite and feeling generally unwell

The disease usually has an incubation period of 3 to 6 days. Once one or all of these symptoms present themselves, patients normally make a full recovery within 4 to 5 days.

However, there is a small percentage of infected individuals that enter into a second and more toxic phase within 24 hours of recovering from the initial symptoms. The fever returns, but this time around several bodily systems are affected. Individuals affected by this phase are likely to develop:

  • Jaundice (the yellowing of skin and eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding from mouth, nose, stomach, or within stools

For those who enter this rare secondary round of the disease, survival rates are not as positive. Approximately half of those who enter the toxic phase will die within 7 to 10 days.

Treatment and Prevention of Yellow Fever

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, however hospital care for the symptoms can significantly improve survival rates. The best way for travellers to protect themselves against contracting the disease whilst abroad is by way of vaccination.

If you are travelling to an area of the world affected by yellow fever, then you will need to be vaccinated at least 10 days prior to departing so that the vaccination has time to take effect. Only after this period has elapsed will you be issued with a vaccination certificate. It’s important to note that some countries require that you present this certificate upon entry.

The vaccine provides lifelong protection, so you shouldn’t need to receive a booster, or require a new certificate after receiving your initial jab.

Organise Your Travel Health with DocHQ

Receiving the correct travel vaccines before you leave to go abroad can ultimately save your life. Diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, and typhoid are very real threats when travelling to more far-flung destinations. Getting your protection right is critical.  

Here at DocHQ we can help you organise your travel health with our brand new travel vaccine checker.

Simply enter your travel destination and dates of travel, and our tool will let you know what vaccinations or malaria medications are needed, along with help to find the nearest clinic for you to book your pre-travel appointment for necessary vaccinations. Soon we will also be able to arrange the delivery of items such as malaria medication direct to your door after completion of our online form.

Check what travel vaccine you require before your trip.  

Other blogs that may interest you: Travel survival tips, 5 tips for travelling on the cheap, Booked your holiday, what do you do next?

DocHQ Ltd is a Health Tech company improving choices. We help you connect efficiently to health support and advice whether you are at home, work or travelling. See our website for our services or call us on 0330 088 0645.