Planning A Trip Abroad? Here’s How To Reduce Risk Of Yellow Fever

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Planning a trip abroad? If tropical destinations such as South America or Africa are on your itinerary, know all about yellow fever and learn essential tips to minimize your risk of contracting the infection.

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Yellow fever is an infectious disease caused by a mosquito-borne flavivirus. WHO considers yellow fever a “potential threat to global health security” as it is a high-impact, high-threat disease. The disease claims about 30,000 lives per year across the world. Yellow fever is endemic to many countries in Africa, where around 90% of deaths occur.

Know symptoms:

The typical symptoms begin within a week after the virus enters the human body through a mosquito bite. The signs include fever, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting.

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In some instances, a day after the initial symptoms subside, patients may progress into a dangerous phase of infection marked by high fever, jaundice, dark urine, and abdominal pain accompanied by vomiting. This toxic phase can also cause bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, or stomach, and often affects multiple body systems, primarily the liver and kidneys. Tragically, half of the patients who enter this toxic phase succumb within 7-10 days.

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Treatment and Prevention:

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Currently, no specific antiviral drugs can cure the disease. The treatment strategy focuses on adequate rest, hydration, and medications to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.

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Getting vaccinated against yellow fever and avoiding mosquito bites are the two most effective preventive measures. Wearing protective clothes and use of mosquito repellants can minimize mosquito bites.

The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 9 months and older who are traveling to or residing in regions of Africa, South America, or other countries where yellow fever is present. Additionally, it is advised for travelers heading to countries that mandate a yellow fever immunization certificate.

Travelers to high-risk areas should get vaccinated three to four weeks before their trip. A single dose of the vaccine provides lifelong protection against the infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend yellow fever vaccination for travelers going to low-risk areas except if they have prolonged travel, heavy exposure to mosquitoes, or inability to avoid mosquito bites.

“Factors to consider when deciding whether to vaccinate a traveler include destination-specific and travel-associated risks for yellow fever virus infection; individual, underlying risk factors for having serious yellow fever vaccine-associated adverse event; and country entry requirements,” the CDC statement says.



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