Yellow Fever: Cause, Signs and Symptoms, Treatment

Yellow fever got its name from the fact that one of the signs and symptoms it brings is jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. According to the World Health Organization or WHO, most cases of yellow fever occur in Africa and Latin America.

To date, there is no known cure for yellow fever. However, majority of those who suffer from it tend to recover completely although about 15 percent of people with yellow fever enter a phase that could cost them their lives.


Health authorities say that the one to blame for yellow fever is a virus called the flavivirus. The said virus is spread around by means of a mosquito bite. A mosquito can become infected with the flavivirus each time it bites a person or monkey carrying the virus.

Needless to say, yellow fever is prevalent in areas of the planet where there are mosquitoes spreading the flavivirus around. WHO says that is commonly seen in 32 counties in Africa and 13 counties in Latin America. Per year, it is estimated that 200,000 people are infected.

Even if the mosquito that transmits the flavivirus is not present where you live, it’s still possible for you to become infected with yellow fever. Such can happen if you travel to where yellow fever is very common. This is why your doctor may ask you if you travelled recently and to where if he or she suspects that you are suffering from yellow fever.

To confirm if it’s yellow fever that you have, a doctor will also ask for the presenting signs and symptoms. You may be requested to provide a blood sample for analysis, too.

Signs and Symptoms

After being bitten by a mosquito that is a carrier of the flavivirus, signs and symptoms can occur in just 3 to 6 days. The initial signs and symptoms of the infection are similar to those of the flu. They include headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, fever and chills.

Health authorities say that yellow fever comes in two phases: acute and toxic.

The acute phase tends to last for 3 to 4 days only. Someone with yellow fever who is in the acute phase will experience the signs and symptoms mentioned above. Aside from those, he or she may also have loss of appetite and flushing.

Once the acute phase is through, the signs and symptoms go away on their own. After this phase, most people will recover completely. Unfortunately, about 15 percent of all people who are infected with yellow fever enter what’s called the toxic phase.

Needless to say, the toxic phase is usually deadly. If about 24 hours after the acute phase the signs and symptoms return, it’s an indicator that the toxic phase has begun.

Aside from the signs and symptoms associated with the acute phase the toxic phase comes with additional ones, many of which are very serious. Some of them include abdominal pain, decreased urine production, delirium, seizures, irregular heart rhythm, bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth, and vomiting with blood at times.


Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for yellow fever. However, there is a vaccine that can keep it at bay, although it is quite useless if the infection is already taking place.

The goal is to manage the various signs and symptoms of yellow fever. Also, the immune system needs to be strengthened so that the patient’s own body may be able to fight the infection going on within. It’s important to increase fluid intake to prevent dehydration and lower the body temperature. If bleeding is present, blood transfusions are often warranted. Necessary treatments for the prevention of other possible infections may be provided.

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