Yellow Fever | Infectious Disease and International Health | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Yellow Fever

What is yellow fever?

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. In rare cases, the yellow fever vaccine can have serious and sometimes fatal side effects. People older than 60 years and people with weakened immune systems might be at higher risk of developing these side effects. Also, there are special concerns for pregnant and nursing women. Talk to your travel medicine provider about whether you should get the vaccine.

Get yellow fever vaccine if recommended or if required:

  • 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 (ICVP, sometimes called the “yellow card”), which you must bring with you on your trip.

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:  CDC’s recommendation  is different from the country’s requirement. A vaccine recommendation is designed to keep you from getting yellow fever; a vaccine requirement is the country’s attempt to keep travelers from bringing the yellow fever virus into the country. CDC does not have any control over other countries’ vaccine requirements or how they are enforced.

Prevent mosquito bites.


Page reviewed on: Mar 09, 2017

Page reviewed by: Jessie L. Leyse, MD

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