18 Facts You Need to Know About Yellow Fever

Every month on the STA Travel Blog, we invite our resident nurse, Michelle Sellors to bring you up to speed about everything you need to know about a particular subject, related to her favourite subject of travel health.

Michelle has 11 years experience in the industry, and now works closely with our teams in our STA Travel Clinics, in Liverpool and Manchester.

This week, she’s chosen to focus on one of the world’s most misunderstood diseases, yellow fever. These are the facts, as seen through the eyes and experience of Michelle, a professional nurse.

10 Facts About Yellow Fever, to get you started

1. Yellow fever is a viral illness, which is spread via the bite of infected mosquitoes, which are most active during the daytime.

2. The infection occurs in 3 cycles: Jungle, Urban and Intermediate. Monkeys are the usual hosts in the jungle cycle but humans can become infected when they enter these areas.

3. Yellow fever is a serious illness. Around 50{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of those who develop the more serious symptoms will die.

4. Some people will just have flu-like symptoms, but many will have a more severe disease including jaundice, bleeding and organ failure.

5. There is no specific cure for yellow fever; treatment focuses on keeping the patient comfortable, and relieving symptoms.

6. The disease affects 45 countries, and the World Health Organisation estimates there are 200,000 cases causing around 30,000 deaths a year, although the majority of cases go unreported.

7. Yellow fever occurs in parts of Central and South America, and Africa. It doesn’t occur in Asia, despite the correct climatic conditions and mosquitoes being present.

8. The slave trade is thought to be responsible for the spread of the disease outside Africa.

9. The risk is thought to be significantly higher in Africa, than South America.

10. Outbreaks also occurred in Europe and USA in the 18th and 19th centuries.

This is an aedes mosquito, one of the varieties that carries the yellow fever disease.

8 Facts About the Prevention of Yellow Fever

1. The main means of protection is by vaccination, alongside mosquito bite prevention methods (repellents, clothing, nets etc.).

2. International Health Regulations exist to prevent the spread of the disease to unaffected countries. An official certificate is issued whenever a yellow fever vaccine is given: keep it safe, you may be asked to show it at airports, land borders or ports.

3. The vaccination can only be administered at special Yellow Fever Centres, like our Travel Clinics in Liverpool and Manchester.

4. The yellow fever vaccine is a ‘live vaccine’ and is not suitable for everyone, such as those with compromised immune systems, or those with an egg allergy.

5. Rare serious side effects following vaccination have been reported, especially in very young babies and those over 60. Discuss the relative risks with your travel health adviser. It may be appropriate that an exemption certificate is issued.

6. The vaccine is extremely effective (around 95{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of those vaccinated will respond).

7. It should be given 10 days or more before travelling to yellow fever risk areas to be fully effective and for the certificate to be valid. If you are travelling at shorter notice discuss with a travel health adviser.

8. The certificate is valid for 10 years although the protection of the vaccine is thought to last much longer in the majority of cases.

That’s 18 facts, which are intended to give you some level-headed advice about this deadly disease. We choose to give you the facts, instead of shying away from the reality of these ailments, because we believe it’s so important for travellers, young and old (and in the middle) to arm themselves with the best prevention.

Always check your vaccination recommendations/requirements before travelling. Although yellow fever is a rare disease in travellers, it is extremely dangerous.

We’ve heard horror stories of travellers being vaccinated and/or kept in quarantine, because they couldn’t show a valid vaccination certificate when asked at border controls. Vaccinations for yellow fever start at just £58, so now you know the facts, get yourself into one of our Travel Clinics.

Thanks again to our resident nurse, Michelle, for her expertise this month. Remember to check out her previous blog posts about malaria, and ticks