Do you know there are thousands of infections caused by many microorganisms? The fact that we lived alongside such microorganisms should make us be more cautious with our health. Getting regular health screening can be beneficial in knowing if a person is much more prone to get certain kinds of infections. In this article, we will be learning about yellow fever and its 5 main symptoms.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the yellow fever virus. You may be familiar with dengue as the kind of diseases caused by the bites of the Aedes mosquito. Yellow fever and dengue fever share the same common way of spreading. Both diseases are spread by the infected mosquitoes that bite humans and inject the virus into the human. Mosquito is said to be infected when it bites a person or animals that contain the virus.
There are few ways how the yellow fever is able to spread to humans. It is worth noting that all these ways must involve dengue as its vector or the one that carries the virus. The first one is sylvatic or jungle where the monkeys are bitten by the wild mosquitoes and passed to other monkeys or humans. The second one is intermediate which is semi-domestic, meaning both mosquitoes in forest and around houses infect both monkeys and people. The third one is urban where the infected people introduced the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density.
Yellow fever is common in Africa region with some in Central and South America. The most common ways on how yellow fever is spread is through semi-domestic transmission. In occasional cases, infected travelers may have exported cases to countries that were initially free from yellow fever. Even so, the diseases can only spread easily given the presence of the mosquito species able to transmit the virus, specific climate and animal reservoir needed to maintain it.
It will take almost a week for a person to develop symptoms once bitten by the infected mosquitoes. Many people may not have symptoms. The 5 main symptoms of yellow fever are fever, muscle pain (myalgia), headache, loss of appetite and nausea or vomiting. Symptoms often disappear after 3 to 4 days. In some cases, a small percentage of patients enter the toxic phase within the first 24 hours after recovering from the initial symptoms. During the phase, high fever returns and several body systems are affected, mainly liver and kidneys. Patients will have jaundice symptoms (yellow tinge to the skin and/or to the white eyes), dark coloured urine, black vomit, swelling of the brain (cerebral edema) and abdominal pain with vomiting. Some may experience bleeding from the mouth, nose or stomach. Toxic phase can occur quickly as the virus itself is able to spread to multiple organs and it can be life-threatening as report shows that half of patients entering toxic phase die within 7 to 10 days.
There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. Similar to dengue fever, yellow fever treatment emphasizes on ensuring patients are getting enough hydration and rest. Thus, patients are often asked to rest and stay hydrated aside from getting medical advice. In most cases with mild symptoms, patients can stay home but in much more complex or complicated cases, patients might require hospitalization or emergency treatment. In severe symptoms such as where multiple organs are involved, supportive treatments are given to alleviate symptoms and to reduce the risk for life-threatening events.
Since there no effective treatment, the best way to prevent the disease is to take preventative steps. Due to the fact that even very short periods being outdoors can lead to exposure to mosquito bites, it is best for people to wear proper protective clothing including long sleeves, long pants, socks and closed-toe shoes. Pant legs can be tucked into socks to prevent bites to the ankles. Using repellent containing permethrin, DEET and oil of lemon eucalyptus can reduce the risk for mosquito bites. Sleeping under mosquito net and treated with insecticide can is very beneficial. Try to close window and doors as much as possible to avoid mosquito from entering the house.
It is recommended to take yellow fever vaccination if a person is planning to travel where yellow fever is present or if a person needs a yellow fever certificate for proof as the person has been vaccinated. The vaccine is also recommended for those at risk for the disease as their place already has yellow fever cases. It is best for yellow fever vaccination 10 days before travel as this is the time needed for the body to develop immunity against the yellow fever virus. Single dose of yellow fever vaccine protects most people throughout their life but it is recommended to take a booster after 10 years.