Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes in parts of Africa and South America. Vaccination is safe and effective and is a legal requirement for people travelling through infected areas. Avoiding mosquito bites is also recommended to reduce the risk of catching yellow fever or other mosquito-borne diseases.
The symptoms of yellow fever
The first symptoms of yellow fever appear three to six days after exposure to the virus. They include:
• Stomach ache
• Muscle pain
• Restlessness and irritability.
Mild cases of yellow fever end with the above symptoms. In severe cases, there may be a remission from these symptoms for several hours or days. The fever then returns and the patient develops symptoms of jaundice (yellow eyes and skin) and black, ‘coffee-ground’ vomit. This can be followed by coma and death within days.
Vaccination is a legal requirement
If you are travelling or passing through areas infected with yellow fever, some countries require you to be vaccinated. A record of your immunization must be entered and validated in your Certificate of Vaccination While some countries have no entry requirements, others may require an International Certificate of Vaccination for all travelers. It is best to get the vaccination to ensure that you meet the varying entry requirements.
You must have the yellow fever vaccine at least 10 days before entering a country that requires you to have it, otherwise quarantine measures may be enforced.
Avoid mosquito bites
Whether or not you need to be vaccinated, it is always a good idea when travelling to protect against mosquito bites and so reduce the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness. Some tips include:
• Wearing mosquito repellent that contains at least 30 per cent DEET
• Applying repellent, such as permethrin, to your clothes and bedding
• Wearing socks, long pants, and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors
• Using a bed net
• Staying in air conditioned, screened accommodation.