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Yellow fever: Wikis


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Yellow fever
Classification and external resources

A TEM micrograph of the yellow fever virus (234,000X magnification).
ICD-10 A95.
ICD-9 060
DiseasesDB 14203
MedlinePlus 001365
eMedicine med/2432 emerg/645
MeSH D015004

Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease.[1] The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family.

The yellow fever virus is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitos (the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and other species) and is found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa, and Asia.[2] The only known hosts of the virus are primates and several species of mosquito. The origin of the disease is most likely to be Africa, from where it was introduced to South America through the slave trade in the 16th century. Since the 17th century, several major epidemics of the disease have been recorded in the Americas, Africa and Europe. In the 19th century, yellow fever was deemed one of the most dangerous infectious diseases.[3]

Clinically, yellow fever presents in most cases with fever, nausea, and pain and it generally subsides after several days. In some patients, a toxic phase follows, in which liver damage with jaundice (giving the name of the disease) can occur and lead to death. Because of the increased bleeding tendency (bleeding diathesis), yellow fever belongs to the group of hemorrhagic fevers. The WHO estimates that yellow fever causes 200,000 illnesses and 30,000 deaths every year in unvaccinated populations;[4] around 90% of the infections occur in Africa.[5]

A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever has existed since the middle of the 20th century and some countries require vaccinations for travelers.[6] Since no therapy is known, vaccination programs are, along with measures to reduce the population of the transmitting mosquito, of great importance in affected areas. Since the 1980s, the number of cases of yellow fever has been increasing, making it a reemerging disease.[7]


Signs and symptoms

Yellow fever begins suddenly after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.[8] In these cases the infection lasts only three to four days. 15% of cases enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes and in the gastrointestinal tract can cause vomitus containing blood (giving the name "vómito negro").[9] The toxic phase is fatal in approximately 20% of cases.[10]

Surviving the infection causes life-long immunity[11] and normally there is no remaining organ damage.[12]


Yellow fever virus
Virus classification
Group: Group IV ((+)ssRNA)
Family: Flaviviridae
Genus: Flavivirus
Species: Yellow fever virus

Yellow fever is caused by the yellow fever virus, a 40 to 50 nm wide enveloped RNA virus belonging to the family Flaviviridae. The positive sense single-stranded RNA is approximately 11,000 nucleotides long and has a single open reading frame encoding a polyprotein. Host proteases cut this polyprotein into three structural (C, prM, E) and seven non-structural proteins (NS1, NS2A, NS2B, NS3, NS4A, NS4B, NS5); the enumeration corresponds to the arrangement of the protein coding genes in the genome.[13] The viruses infect amongst others monocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. They attach to the cell surface via specific receptors and are taken up by an endosomal vesicle. Inside the endosome, the decreased pH induces the fusion of the endosomal membrane with the virus envelope. Thus, the capsid reaches the cytosol, decays and releases the genome. Receptor binding as well as membrane fusion are catalyzed by the protein E, which changes its conformation at low pH, which causes a rearrangement of the 90 homodimers to 60 homotrimers.[13]

After entering the host cells, the viral genome is replicated in the rough endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and in the so-called vesicle packets. At first, an immature form of the virus particle is produced inside the ER, whose M-protein is not yet cleaved to its mature form and is therefore denoted as prM (precursor M) and forms a complex with protein E. The immature particles are processed in the Golgi apparatus by the host protein furin, which cleaves prM to M. This releases E from the complex which can now take its place in the mature, infectious virion.[13]


Aedes aegypti feeding
Adults of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti. The male on the left, females on the right. Only the female mosquito bites and can transmit the disease

The yellow fever virus is mainly transmitted through the bite of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, but other mosquitos such as the " tiger mosquito" (Aedes albopictus) can also serve as a vector for the virus. Like other Arboviruses which are transmitted via mosquitos, the yellow fever virus is taken up by a female mosquito which sucks the blood of an infected person. Viruses reach the stomach of the mosquito, and if the virus concentration is high enough, the virions can infect epithelial cells and replicate there. From there they reach the haemocoel (the blood system of mosquitos) and from there the salivary glands. When the mosquito sucks blood the next time, it injects its saliva into the wound, and thus the virus reaches the blood of the bitten person. There are also indications for vertical infection of the yellow fever virus within A. aegypti, i.e. the transmission from a female mosquito to her eggs and then larvae. This infection of vectors without a previous blood meal seems to play a role in single, sudden breakouts of the disease.[14]

There are three epidemiologically different infectious cycles,[7] in which the virus is transmitted from mosquitos to humans or other primates. In the urban cycle, only the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti is involved, which is well adapted to urban centres and can also transmit other diseases including Dengue and Chikungunya. The urban cycle is responsible for the major outbreaks of yellow fever that occur in Africa. Except in an outbreak in 1999 in Bolivia, this urban cycle no longer exists in South America and is only present in Africa.

Besides the urban cycle there is, both in Africa and South America, a sylvatic cycle (Forest cycle or Jungle cycle), where Aedes africanus (in Africa) or mosquitos of the genus Haemagoggus and Sabethes (in South America) serve as a vector. In the jungle, mainly non-human primates get infected; the disease is mostly asymptomatic in African primates. In South America, the sylvatic cycle is currently the only way humans can infect themselves, which explains the low incidence of yellow fever cases on this continent. People who become infected in the jungle can carry the virus to urban centres, where Ae. aegypti acts as a vector. It is because of this sylvatic cycle that yellow fever cannot be eradicated.[7]

In Africa there is a third infectious cycle, also known as savannah cycle or intermediate cycle, which occurs between the jungle and urban cycle. Different mosquitos of the genus Aedes are involved. In recent years this is the most common form of yellow fever seen in Africa.[4]


After transmission of the virus from a mosquito the viruses replicate in the lymph nodes and infect dendritic cells in particular. From there they reach the liver and infect hepatocytes (probably indirectly via Kupffer cells), which leads to eosinophilic degradation of these cells and to the release of cytokines. Necrotic masses (Councilman bodies) appear in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes.[6][15]

When the disease takes a deadly course, a cardiovascular shock and multi organ failure with strongly increased cytokine levels (cytokine storm) follow.[10]


Yellow fever is a clinical diagnosis, which often relies on the whereabouts of the diseased person during the incubation time. Mild courses of the disease can only be confirmed virologically. Since also mild courses of yellow fever can significantly contribute to regional outbreaks, every suspected yellow fever has to be treated seriously (six to ten days after leaving the affected area symptoms of fever, pain, nausea and vomiting).

If yellow fever is suspected, the virus can be confirmed until six to ten days after the illness. A direct confirmation can be obtained by Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction where the genome of the virus is amplified.[5] Another direct approach is the isolation of the virus and its growth in cell culture using blood plasma; this can take one to four weeks.

Serologically an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay during the acute phase of the disease using specific IgM against yellow fever or an increase in specific IgG-titer (compared to an earlier sample) can confirm yellow fever. Together with clinical symptoms, the detection of IgM or a fourfold increase in IgG-titer is considered sufficient indication for yellow fever. Since these tests can cross-react with other Flaviviruses, like Dengue virus, these indirect methods can never prove yellow fever infection. Liver biopsy can verify inflammation and necrosis of hepatocytes and detect viral antigens. Because of the bleeding tendency of yellow fever patients, a biopsy is only advisable post mortem to confirm the cause of death.

In a differential diagnosis, infections with yellow fever have to be distinguished from other feverish illnesses like malaria. Other viral hemorrhagic fever, such as Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Marburg virus or Junin virus have to be excluded as cause.


Personal prevention of yellow fever includes vaccination as well as avoidance of mosquito bites in areas where yellow fever is endemic. Institutional measures for prevention of yellow fever include vaccination programmes and measures of controlling mosquitos.


Injection of protective vaccination into the deltoid muscle
The cover of a certificate that confirms that the holder has been vaccinated against yellow fever

For journeys into affected areas, vaccination is highly recommended since mostly non-native people are affected by severe cases of yellow fever. The protective effect is established 10 days after vaccination in 95% of the vaccinated people[16] and lasts for at least 10 years (even 30 years later, 81% of patients retained the immunity). The attenuated live vaccine (stem 17D) was developed in 1937 by Max Theiler[16] from a diseased patient in Ghana and is produced in chicken eggs. WHO recommends routine vaccinations for people living in endemic areas between the 9th and 12th month after birth.[5]

In about 20% of all cases,[17] mild, flu-like symptoms may develop. In rare cases (less than one in 200,000 to 300,000[16]), the vaccination can cause YEL-AVD (yellow fever vaccine-associated viscerotropic disease), which is fatal in 60% of all cases. It is probably due to a genetic defect in the immune system. But in some vaccination campaigns, a 20 fold higher incidence rate has been reported. Age is an important risk factor; in children the complication rate is less than one case per 10 million vaccinations. Another possible side effect is an infection of the nervous system that occurs in one in 200,000 to 300,000 of all cases, causing YEL-AND (yellow fever vaccine-associated neurotropic disease), which can cause meningoencephalitis and is less than 5%[16] of all cases fatal.[5][10]

In 2009, the largest mass vaccination against yellow fever commenced in West Africa, specifically Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone.[18][19] When it is completed in 2015, more than 12 million people will have been vaccinated against the disease.[18] According to the World Health Organization, the mass vaccination cannot eliminate yellow fever because of the massive number of infected mosquitoes in urban areas of the target countries, but it will significantly reduce the number of people infected.[18] However, the WHO plans to continue the vaccination campaign in another five African countries—Central African Republic, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria—and claimed that approximately 160 million people in the continent could be at risk unless the organization acquires additional funding.[20]

Compulsory vaccination

Some countries in Asia are theoretically in danger of yellow fever epidemics (mosquitoes with the capability to transmit yellow fever and susceptible monkeys are present), even though the disease does not yet occur there. To prevent introduction of the virus, some countries demand previous vaccination of foreign visitors, if they have passed through yellow fever areas. Vaccination has to be proven in a vaccination certificate which is valid 10 days after the vaccination and lasts for 10 years. A list of the countries which require yellow fever vaccination is published by the WHO.[21] If the vaccination cannot be conducted for some reasons, dispensation is possible. In this case an exemption certificate issued by a WHO approved vaccination center is required.

Even though 32 of 44 countries where yellow fever occurs endemically do have vaccination programmes, in many of these countries fewer than 50% of their population is vaccinated.[5]

Vector control

Information campaign for prevention of Dengue and yellow fever in Paraguay

Besides vaccination, control of the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti is of major importance, especially because the same mosquito can also transmit Dengue and Chikungunya disease. Ae. aegypti breeds preferentially in water, for example in installations by inhabitants of areas with precarious drinking water supply, or in domestic waste; especially tires, cans and plastic bottles. Especially in proximity to urban centres of developing countries these conditions are very common and make a perfect habitat for Ae. aegypti. Two strategies are employed to fight the mosquito:

One approach is to kill the developing larva. Measures are taken to reduce water build-up (the habitat of the larva), and larvicides are used as well as larva-eating fish and copepods, which reduce the number of larva and thus indirectly the number of disease-transmitting mosquitos. For many years, copepods of the genus Mesocyclops have been used in Vietnam for fighting Dengue fever (yellow fever does not occur in Asia), with the effect that in the affected areas no cases of Dengue fever have occurred since 2001. Similar mechanisms are probably also effective against yellow fever. Pyriproxyfen is recommended as a chemical larvicide, mainly because it is safe for humans and effective even in small doses.[5]

Besides larva, the adult yellow fever mosquitos are also targeted. The curtains and lids of water tanks are sprayed with insecticides. Spraying insecticides inside houses is another measure, although it is not recommended by the WHO. Similar to the malaria carrier, the Anopheles mosquito, insecticide treated mosquito nets are used successfully against A. aegypti.[5]


For yellow fever there is, like for all diseases caused by Flaviviruses, no causative cure. Hospitalization is advisable and intensive care may be necessary because of rapid deterioration in some cases. Different methods for acute treatment of the disease have been shown to not be very successful; passive immunisation after emergence of symptoms is probably without effect. Ribavirin and other antiviral drugs as well as treatment with interferons do not have a positive effect in patients.[10] A symptomatic treatment includes rehydration and pain relief with drugs like paracetamol. Acetylsalicylic acid (for example Aspirin) should not be given because of its haemodiluting effect, which can be devastating in the case of inner bleeding that can occur with yellow fever.


Endemic range of yellow fever in South America (2009).
Endemic range of yellow fever in Africa (2009).

Yellow fever is endemic in tropical and subtropical areas of South America and Africa. Even though the main vector Aedes aegypti also occurs in Asia, in the Pacific and the Middle East, yellow fever does not occur in these areas; the reason for this is unknown. Worldwide there are about 600 million people living in endemic areas and the official estimations of the WHO amount to 200,000 cases of disease and 30,000 deaths a year; the number of officially reported cases is far lower. An estimated 90% of the infections occur on the African continent.[5] In 2008, the largest number of cases was recorded in Togo.

Phylogenetic analysis identified seven genotypes of yellow fever viruses, and it is assumed that they are differently adapted to humans and to the vector A. aegypti. Five genotypes occur solely in Africa, and is assumed that the West Africa–genotype I is especially virulent or infectious, because this type is often associated with major outbreaks of yellow fever. In South America two genotypes have been identified.[7]


Carlos Finlay
Walter Reed

The evolutionary origins of yellow fever most likely lie in Africa.[22] It is thought that the virus originated in East or Central Africa and spread from there to West Africa. The virus as well as the vector A. aegypti were probably brought to South America by ship after 1492. The first probable outbreak of the disease was in 1648 in Yucatan, where the illness was termed xekik (black vomit). At least 25 major outbreaks followed, such as in Philadelphia 1793, where several thousand people died and the American administration as well as George Washington had to flee the city.[23] Yellow fever epidemics in North America caused some 100,000-150,000 deaths.[24] Major outbreaks also occurred in Europe, e.g. in 1821 in Barcelona with several thousand victims. In 1878, about 20,000 people died in an epidemic in the Mississippi River Valley and the last major outbreak in the US occurred in 1905 in New Orleans.[7] In colonial times, West Africa became known as "the white man's grave" because of malaria and yellow fever.[25]

Carlos Finlay, a Cuban doctor and scientist, first proposed in 1881 that yellow fever may be transmitted by mosquitoes rather than direct human contact.[26] Since the losses in the invasion of Cuba in the 1890s due to yellow fever were thirteenfold higher than the losses due to military operations, further experiments conducted by a team under Walter Reed successfully proved the ″Mosquito Hypothesis″. Yellow fever was thus the first virus shown to be transmitted by mosquitos. The physician William Gorgas then applied these insights and eradicated yellow fever from Havana and fought yellow fever during the construction of the Panama Canal – after a French effort to build the canal had failed due, among other reasons, to the high incidence of yellow fever and malaria.[7]

Although Dr. Reed received much of the credit in history books for "beating" yellow fever, Reed himself credited Dr. Finlay with the discovery of the yellow fever vector, and thus how it might be controlled. Dr. Reed often cited Finlay's papers in his own articles and gave him credit for the discovery, even in his personal correspondence.[27] The acceptance of Finlay's work was one of the most important and far-reaching effects of the Walter Reed Commission of 1900.[28] Applying methods first suggested by Finlay, yellow fever was eradicated in Cuba and later in Panama, allowing completion of the of the Panama Canal.

In 1927, the yellow fever virus was isolated in West Africa, which led to the development of two vaccines in the 1930s. The vaccine D17 was developed by the South African microbiologist Max Theiler at the Rockefeller Institute. Following the work of Ernest Goodpasture, he used chicken eggs to culture the virus and won a Nobel Prize for this achievement in 1951. A French team developed the vaccine FNV (French neurotropic vaccine), which was extracted from mouse brain tissue – but since it was associated with a higher incidence of encephalitis, FNV was not recommended after 1961. 17D on the other hand is still in use and over 400 million doses have been distributed. Since little has been invested in the development of new vaccines, the 60 year old technology cannot adopt fast enough to a yellow fever epidemic. Newer vaccines based on vero cells are in development and should replace 17D at some point.[5]

Using vector control and strict vaccination programs, the urban cycle of yellow fever has been eradicated from South America and since 1943 – apart from an urban outbreak in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) – there has been no yellow fever transmission by A. aegypti reported. Since the 1980s, the number of yellow fever cases has been increasing again and A. aegypti has returned to the urban centres of South America; partly because the vector control program was abandoned. Even though no new urban cycle has yet established itself, it is feared that this might happen at any point. An outbreak in Paraguay in 2008 was first thought to be urban in nature, but this turned out to not be the case.[5]

In Africa on the other hand, virus eradication programs have mostly used vaccination, but have been unsuccessful since the sylvatic cycle could not be eradicated. After the measures to fight yellow fever were abandoned since few countries have established regular vaccination programs, the virus could spread again.[5]


In the hamster model of yellow fever, early administration of the antiviral ribavirin is an effective early treatment of many pathological features of the disease.[29] Ribavirin treatment during the first five days after virus infection improved survival rates, reduced tissue damage in target organs (liver and spleen), prevented hepatocellular steatosis, and normalised alanine aminotransferase (a liver damage marker) levels. The results of this study suggest that ribavirin may be effective in the early treatment of yellow fever, and that its mechanism of action in reducing liver pathology in yellow fever virus infection may be similar to that observed with ribavirin in the treatment of hepatitis C, a virus related to yellow fever.[29] Because ribavirin had failed to improve survival in a virulent primate (rhesus) model of yellow fever infection, it had been previously discounted as a possible therapy.[30]

In the past, yellow fever has been researched by several countries as a potential biological weapon.[31]


  1. ^ Schmaljohn AL, McClain D. (1996). "Alphaviruses (Togaviridae) and Flaviviruses (Flaviviridae)". in Baron S. Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). Univ of Texas Medical Branch. ISBN 0-9631172-1-1. 
  2. ^ "CDC Yellow Fever". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  3. ^ Oldstone, Michael B. A. (2000). Viruses, Plagues, and History (1st ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 45. ISBN 0195134222. 
  4. ^ a b "Yellow fever fact sheet". WHO—Yellow fever. Retrieved 2006-04-18. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Tolle MA (April 2009). "Mosquito-borne diseases". Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care 39 (4): 97–140. doi:10.1016/j.cppeds.2009.01.001. PMID 19327647. 
  6. ^ a b Ryan KJ; Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Barrett AD, Higgs S (2007). "Yellow fever: a disease that has yet to be conquered". Annu. Rev. Entomol. 52: 209–29. doi:10.1146/annurev.ento.52.110405.091454. PMID 16913829. 
  8. ^ "WHO | Yellow fever". Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  9. ^ Chastel C (August 2003). "[Centenary of the discovery of yellow fever virus and its transmission by a mosquito (Cuba 1900–1901)]" (in French). Bull Soc Pathol Exot 96 (3): 250–6. PMID 14582304. 
  10. ^ a b c d Monath TP (April 2008). "Treatment of yellow fever". Antiviral Res. 78 (1): 116–24. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2007.10.009. PMID 18061688. 
  11. ^ Modrow, Susanne; Falke, Dietrich; Truyen, Uwe (2002). Molekulare Virologie – Eine Einführung für Biologen und Mediziner (2. Auflage ed.). Spektrum Akademischer Verlag. p. 182. ISBN 382741086X. 
  12. ^ Section 2.1.2 The Global Distribution of Yellow Fever and Dengue D.J. Rogers, A.J. Wilson, S.I. Hay and A.J. Graham Advances in Parasitology VOL 62 2006
  13. ^ a b c Sampath A, Padmanabhan R (January 2009). "Molecular targets for flavivirus drug discovery". Antiviral Research 81 (1): 6–15. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2008.08.004. PMID 18796313. 
  14. ^ D. Fontenille et al.: First evidence of natural vertical transmission of yellow fever virus in Aedes aegypti, its epidemic vector. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. (1997) 91(5): S. 533–535 PMID 9463659
  15. ^ Quaresma JA, Barros VL, Pagliari C, Fernandes ER, Guedes F, Takakura CF, Andrade HF Jr, Vasconcelos PF, Duarte MI (2006). "Revisiting the liver in human yellow fever: virus-induced apoptosis in hepatocytes associated with TGF-beta, TNF-alpha and NK cells activity". Virology 345 (1): 22–30. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2005.09.058. PMID 16278000. 
  16. ^ a b c d Barrett AD, Teuwen DE (June 2009). "Yellow fever vaccine – how does it work and why do rare cases of serious adverse events take place?". Current Opinion in Immunology 21 (3): 308–13. doi:10.1016/j.coi.2009.05.018. PMID 19520559. 
  17. ^ "Supplementary information on vaccine safety". Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  18. ^ a b c "Twelve million West Africans get yellow fever vaccines". BBC News. 23 November 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2009. 
  19. ^ "West Africa: 12m to be vaccinated for yellow fever". Times Live. 22 November 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  20. ^ "Mass vaccinations to fight yellow fever in Africa". Reuters. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
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  22. ^ Gould EA, de Lamballerie X, Zanotto PM, Holmes EC (2003). "Origins, evolution, and vector/host coadaptations within the genus Flavivirus". Advances in Virus Research 59: 277–314. doi:10.1016/S0065-3527(03)59008-X. PMID 14696332. 
  23. ^ "Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia, 1793". EyeWitness to History. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  24. ^ "Yellow fever epidemics and mortality in the United States, 1693–1905.". Department of History, University of North Carolina, Charlotte 28223.
  25. ^ "Africa's Nations Start to Be TheirBrothers' Keepers". The New York Times, October 15, 1995.
  26. ^ Chaves-Carballo E (2005). "Carlos Finlay and yellow fever: triumph over adversity". Mil Med 170 (10): 881–5. PMID 16435764. 
  27. ^ Pierce J.R., J, Writer. 2005. Yellow Jack: How Yellow Fever Ravaged America and Walter Reed Discovered its Deadly Secrets. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-47261-1.
  28. ^ "Phillip S. Hench Walter Reed Yellow Fever Collection". UVA Health Sciences: Historical Collections. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  29. ^ a b Sbrana E, Xiao SY, Guzman H, Ye M, Travassos da Rosa AP, Tesh RB (2004). "Efficacy of post-exposure treatment of yellow fever with ribavirin in a hamster model of the disease". Am J Trop Med Hyg 71 (3): 306–12. PMID 15381811. 
  30. ^ Huggins JW (1989). "Prospects for treatment of viral hemorrhagic fevers with ribavirin, a broad-spectrum antiviral drug". Rev Infect Dis 11 Suppl 4: S750–61. PMID 2546248. 
  31. ^ "Chemical and Biological Weapons: Possession and Programs Past and Present", James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury College, April 9, 2002, accessed November 14, 2008.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

This is an article about health issues. While contributors do their best, we cannot take account of your individual health needs. Consult your doctor for individual medical advice.

This article is a travel topic.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a potentially fatal tropical disease caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Illness ranges in severity from an influenza-like syndrome to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever. Yellow fever can be prevented by vaccination. Travellers to areas with yellow fever transmission should take precautions against exposure to mosquitoes.

Countries where yellow fever is endemic - with CDC vaccination recommendation (may be abbreviated) as at mid-2006 in brackets - are:

Africa - yellow fever map

  • Angola (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Benin (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Burkina Faso (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Burundi (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Cameroon (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Cape Verde (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Central African Republic (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Chad (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Congo: Democratic Republic of the Congo (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Congo: Republic of the Congo (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Côte d'Ivoire (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Equatorial Guinea (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Ethiopia (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Gabon (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • The Gambia (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Ghana (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Guinea (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Guinea-Bissau (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Kenya (all travellers over 9 months of age; cities of Nairobi and Mombasa have lower risk of transmission than rural areas)
  • Liberia (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Mali (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Mauritania (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Niger (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Nigeria (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Rwanda (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Sao Tome and Principe (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Senegal (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Sierra Leone (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Somalia (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Sudan (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Tanzania (all travellers over 9 months of age; city of Dar es Salaam has a lower risk of transmission than rural areas)
  • Togo (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Uganda (all travellers over 9 months of age)

Central America & South America - yellow fever map

  • Argentina (all travellers over 9 months of age going to the northern and north-eastern forested areas, including Iguaçu Falls)
  • Bolivia (all travellers over 9 months of age travelling to areas east of the Andes Mountains)
  • Brazil (all travellers over 9 months of age going to the endemic zone)
  • Colombia (all travellers over 9 months of age; where itinerary is limited to the cities of Bogotá, Cali, or Medellín, risk is lower and travellers may consider foregoing vaccination)
  • Ecuador (all travellers over 9 months of age who are travelling to areas east of the Andes Mountains)
  • French Guiana (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Guyana (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Panama (all travellers over 9 months of age travelling to the provinces of Darien, Kunayala (San Blas) and Panama, excluding the Canal Zone)
  • Paraguay (all travellers over 9 months of age travelling to the forested areas on the east and west)
  • Peru (all travellers over 9 months of age travelling to the areas east of the Andes Mountains, except if only travelling to the cities of Cuzco and Machu Picchu)
  • Suriname (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Trinidad and Tobago (all travellers over 9 months of age)
  • Venezuela (all travellers over 9 months of age, except if only travelling to the northern coastal area)


A vaccine is available which provides immunity for at least ten years. Many countries will require that you be vaccinated against yellow fever if you are coming from a country where it is present or have been in such a country within the last 6 days (the incubation period). If this is the case you will need to present a "World Health Organisation International Certificate of Vaccination" with an appropriately dated certification on the "International Certificate of Vaccination or Revaccination Against Yellow Fever" page to immigration officials. This little yellow booklet will be given to you when you are vaccinated against yellow fever for the first time. Carry it with your passport: you'll typically present them to immigration officials at the same time.

It is generally easiest to get a yellow fever vaccination in your home country before you leave on your trip. The vaccination is not in the normal vaccination schedules of many countries outside the infected areas since it is unnecessary unless you are travelling and has a somewhat higher risk of complications than many other vaccines. You will need to especially request a yellow fever vaccination from a designated yellow fever vaccination center. Immunity is considered to start 10 days from the time of the vaccination, so be sure to get vaccinated 10 days before you enter an infected country. The vaccine is live and not entirely inactive: many people have mild flu-like symptoms for a couple of days after receiving this vaccine, so it would be good not to be planning anything strenuous in those days.

Depending on how the vaccine is cultivated, you may need to allow about half an hour for a yellow fever vaccination as you will be observed for an allergic reaction after it is administered.

Vaccination requirements

Some countries have mandatory yellow fever vaccination requirements. The exact requirements vary from country to country and may also vary from time to time. The following is a list of countries which had yellow fever vaccination requirements as at mid-2006. Countries requiring proof of vaccination upon arrival from all other countries (as opposed to only upon arrival from endemic zones) for all travellers more than one year old are shown bold.

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Simple English

Yellow fever is an illness which is caused by a virus. The illness can cause bleeding problems. It is called yellow because the skin sometimes becomes yellow, like it does with jaundice. There is a vaccine which can stop the disease, but many people in Africa and South America are not vaccinated against it. The World Health Organisation say that 200.000 people are made ill with yellow fever every year, and that 30.000 people die from it.

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