Yellow fever is a life-threatening illness that is exceedingly uncommon in the US, but individuals who travel or plan to travel should be informed about the risks and prevention methods associated with it.
The illness is most common in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, and infection occurs when an individual is bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus.
Areas with high risks for yellow fever transmission include Ghana, DRC, Uganda, Senegal, Cameroon, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and Columbia.
You can see a full list of areas with the highest risk factors here.
Though most people who are infected with yellow fever experience mild to moderate symptoms, some individuals become incredibly sick 3-6 days following the onset of infection.
Common symptoms may include:
- Severe headache
- Weakness and fatigue
- Back pain
Severe symptoms, on the other hand, include:
- Very high fever
- Jaundice (which causes yellowing of the skin and eyes)
- Organ failure
Despite severe yellow fever symptoms being relatively uncommon among those infected, the severity of these symptoms is deadly in between 30-60% of cases.
Travelers: How To Prevent Yellow Fever Infection
There are a few steps that travelers can take to reduce their risk of becoming infected with yellow fever, even when visiting high-risk areas.
The best possible precaution travelers can take to protect themselves from yellow fever is to get the yellow fever vaccine. In many high-risk areas, it’s required that visitors are vaccinated against yellow fever before they’re permitted entry to the country.
On top of getting vaccinated, travelers can increase their protection against the illness by utilizing insect repellent during their visit, and wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) whenever possible.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to be aware of mosquito behavior patterns and avoid being outdoors during times of high mosquito activity.
Finally, if available, stay in accommodations that offer protective screens in the rooms or use air conditioning.
If you’re in the Morrow or College Park, GA. area and you plan to visit a potentially-risky area in the near future, be sure to schedule an appointment to ensure that you’re taking the best possible precautions against becoming infected with yellow fever.