Yellow Fever

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

Quick Guide25 Ways to Stay Well Abroad in Pictures

25 Ways to Stay Well Abroad in Pictures

How long does yellow fever last?

For individuals with yellow fever who develop the acute mild course of the illness, the symptoms will generally last about three to four days, and most patients will recover fully. For those individuals who develop the more serious toxic phase of the disease and survive, the course of the illness may last for several weeks depending on the severity of illness and any associated complications.

What is the prognosis for people with yellow fever?

The prognosis for individuals who develop uncomplicated yellow fever is generally excellent. However, for those patients who go on to develop the toxic phase of yellow fever, case-fatality rates range from 20%-50% depending on the underlying condition of the patient and the availability of supportive resources. If death occurs, it is typically within 10-14 days after the onset of the toxic phase. Infants and those older than 50 years of age tend to have more severe disease and higher mortality rates. Furthermore, host susceptibility and the virulence of the particular infecting strain can also influence mortality rates. In those individuals who survive yellow fever, generally there is no residual permanent organ damage.

Is it possible to prevent yellow fever?

Vaccination remains the most effective way of preventing yellow fever. The yellow fever vaccine has been used for several decades, and it is a safe vaccine with only rare serious adverse events reported. Since the undertaking of the Yellow Fever Initiative in 2006, visible progress in combating the disease has been made in West Africa with more than 105 million people receiving the vaccine in mass campaigns.

The yellow fever vaccine is a live virus vaccine that provides long-lasting immunity after a single dose. It provides immunity against yellow fever in 95% of individuals within one week of its administration. A booster dose is now not routinely recommended, except in very select cases. The vaccine is available for adults and children older than 9 months of age. It is recommended for travelers to areas where yellow fever is endemic and to local populations who are at risk. Several countries require travelers to demonstrate proof of yellow fever vaccination status for entry in order to prevent the importation and transmission of yellow fever. Check with a local health department for information regarding designated yellow fever vaccination centers.

Effective mosquito-control measures are also an important component for preventing or minimizing the risk of yellow fever. Avoiding mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and long pants) and remaining in properly screened or air-conditioned accommodations is recommended. Furthermore, applying insect repellant containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin is advised.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/30/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors