Yellow Fever

What is yellow fever?

Yellow Immunization Record Photo

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites.

Symptoms take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.

Who is at risk?

Travelers to certain parts of South America and Africa are at risk for yellow fever.

What can travelers do to prevent yellow fever?

Travelers can protect themselves from yellow fever by getting yellow fever vaccine and preventing mosquito bites.

Get the Yellow Fever Vaccine

Yellow Fever Mom with Long Sleeves Baby Photo

Visit a yellow fever vaccination travel clinic and ask for a yellow fever vaccine. You should receive this vaccine at least 10 days before your trip. After receiving the vaccine, you will receive a signed and stamped International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, sometimes called the "yellow card", which you must bring with you on your trip. The vaccine is now believed to give lifelong protection (previous recommendations were to give a booster every 10 years).

Some countries require all travelers to show proof of yellow fever vaccination before they can enter the country. Other countries require proof of vaccination only if travelers have been in a risk area, so if you are visiting multiple countries, the order of travel may be important. Proof of vaccination is not valid until 10 days after you get the vaccine, so plan to get the vaccine early if you need it.

Note that, in rare cases, people older than 60 years and people with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk of developing side effects to the yellow fever vaccine. Also, there are special concerns for pregnant and nursing women. Talk to your doctor about whether you should get the vaccine.

If you feel sick and think you may have yellow fever

Yellow Fever Mosquito Closeup Photo
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever. Tell them about your travel plans, in detail.
  • Use acetaminophen. Do not take pain relievers that contain aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil). It may lead to a greater tendency to bleed.
  • Get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Avoid spreading the disease by preventing more mosquito bites.

The International Travel Medicine Clinic at HCMC will be providing the Stamaril yellow fever vaccine during the US manufactured vaccine shortage. More information about the shortage can be found on the CDC website. All travelers who need to receive Stamaril will need a formal visit in the travel clinic. Appointments can be made at 612-873-6963.

Additional Resources

The following resources are found on the Center for Disease Control website: