Yellow fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes.
Tropical hemorrhagic fever caused by yellow fever virus
Yellow fever is caused by a virus carried by mosquitoes. You can develop this disease if you are bitten by a mosquito infected with this virus.
This disease is common in South America and in sub-Saharan Africa.
Anyone can get yellow fever, but older people have a higher risk of severe infection.
If a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms usually develop 3 to 6 days later.
Yellow fever has 3 stages:
Symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical examination and order blood tests. These blood tests may show liver and kidney failure and evidence of shock.
It is important to tell your provider if you have traveled to areas where the disease is known to thrive. Blood tests can confirm the diagnosis.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. Treatment for symptoms can include:
Yellow fever can cause severe problems, including internal bleeding. Death is possible.
Complications that may result include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
See a provider at least 10 to 14 days before traveling to an area where yellow fever is common to find out whether you should be vaccinated against the disease.
Tell your provider right away if you or your child develops fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, or jaundice, especially if you have traveled to an area where yellow fever is common.
There is an effective vaccine against yellow fever. Ask your provider at least 10 to 14 days before traveling if you should be vaccinated against yellow fever. Some countries require proof of vaccination to gain entry.
If you will be traveling to an area where yellow fever is common:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Yellow fever. www.cdc.gov/yellowfever. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed February 15, 2017.
Kivlehan SM, Villar J, Kanzaria HK. Mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 39.
Thomas SJ, Endy TP, Rothman AL, Barrett AD. Flaviviruses (dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, Kyasanur Forest disease, Alkhurma hemorrhagic fever, Zika). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 155.
Review Date: 12/13/2017
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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