How Damaging Can Yellow Fever Be?
Mosquito bites from infected mosquitoes spread the dangerous disease of yellow fever, and you’re at more of a risk if you live in, or travel to, places where these infected insects thrive. This generally means Central and West Africa, as well as South America, Panama and Trinidad. Each year, this disease infects around 200,000 people around the world, and one in seven of these are hospitalised and die from its effects. It’s very rare for people from the UK to become infected, though. Once you have been bitten by an infected mosquito, you’ll start to see the symptoms around three to six days afterwards. This stage is known as the incubation period and the symptoms are sudden. These include a fever, shivers, headache, feeling sick or being sick, a loss of appetite, achey muscles or backache. The symptoms generally last around three to four days, after which you should start to feel better and the symptoms should gradually disappear. However, some people do experience relapses and become even more ill than the first time around. During this second stage, you may experience a higher fever, your skin and the whites of your eyes may become yellow (which is how this disease gets its name), kidney failure, stomach pains and being sick, blood in your vomit or faeces, and bleeding from your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s during this stage that the condition can become life threatening.
The disease is spread through mosquitoes picking up the virus from other infected people, or monkeys which are infected with the virus – they then pass it on to the next person they bite. This can only be spread in certain countries as there are specific species of mosquitoes which spread the infection – these live and breed in houses or in the jungle. It’s vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible if you’ve been to an affected area and start to develop symptoms as previously highlighted. If you’re abroad, you should still seek out a local hospital or see a doctor. Your GP or a medical professional will carry out a blood test and this will confirm whether you have the virus – it’s crucial that you state to your doctor that you’ve visited an area where yellow fever is common, as this will be vital to your diagnoses. It can be difficult to recognise yellow fever, as the symptoms are commonplace – especially in the first few days. It can sometimes be confused with other conditions such as malaria, dengue fever or typhoid, so giving as much information as you can is important.
There is no specific treatment for the virus, but the symptoms can be treated which will help you to feel more at ease and comfortable. If you become seriously ill, such as if you relapse, then you may need intensive care in order to recover. Pain relief comes in the form of over the counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. However, always read the information that comes with your medication in order to be aware of any risks that may be present. In addition to this, you should get some rest and drink plenty of fluids in order to reduce the risk of becoming dehydrated – generally around six to eight glasses a day. Once you recover from yellow fever, you will be immune from the disease for the rest of your life. There are vaccinations against the virus as well, to protect your immune system, and you can prevent the risk of becoming infected by protecting yourself from mosquito bites.