What is Yellow Fever?
Yellow Fever is an extremely serious and potentially life threatening disease condition which is spread mainly by mosquitoes. The virus responsible for Yellow Fever is the Flavivirus. This condition causes extremely high fever and jaundice with yellowing of the skin and eyes. This is what gives this condition is name Yellow Fever. The symptoms of yellow fever usually begin after about a week of exposure to the virus.
Yellow Fever is not a contagious disease and does not spread through person to person contact. It usually spreads after a mosquito bites an infected human or animal and then bites an infected individual thus spreading the disease. The symptoms of Yellow Fever take the turn for the worse if proper treatment is not given and ultimately may become life threatening.
As of now, there is no cure for Yellow Fever and this condition is treated symptomatically with controlling functioning of the vital structures of the body and the immune system taking care of the virus. Yellow Fever is mostly prevalent in some parts of Africa and Latin America. Blood test is the primary way to diagnose Yellow Fever. This condition is quite rare in the United States as there is vaccination available for Yellow Fever.
What Causes Yellow Fever?
As stated, Yellow Fever is basically caused by Flavivirus. It is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites an individual. The mosquito may get infected by biting another infected individual or animal. Yellow Fever is again not a contagious disease and is not spread through person to person contact. Mosquitoes thrive in the rainforests and in humid climate.
They also thrive in still water. Yellow Fever is found usually in places where there is an increased contact between mosquitoes and the humans who have not been vaccinated for Yellow Fever.
What are the Symptoms of Yellow Fever?
The symptoms of Yellow Fever start within a week of exposure to the virus and are divided into initial, acute, and toxic phase. The third or the toxic phase is rare but if an individual enters the third phase of the condition then the prognosis for that individual is extremely poor. The initial symptoms of Yellow Fever are:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Joint pains
- Fever and chills.
In the acute phase of Yellow Fever, the symptoms are a bit more severe and last for about four days and include:
- Severe headaches
- Severe muscle and joint pains
- Appetite loss
- Back pain.
The symptoms start to fade away after the acute phase of Yellow Fever is over and many people recover but a small population of people do not recover and go into the toxic phase of the condition. From here on, the symptoms are extremely serious and life threatening. The symptoms of toxic phase of Yellow Fever are:
- Decreased urinary output
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting in some cases hemoptysis
- Delirium Tremens
- Bleeding from nose, mouth, or eyes.
This phase of Yellow Fever is extremely serious but very rarely people enter this phase of disease.
How is Yellow Fever Diagnosed?
In case if you have traveled outside the country and have been exposed to mosquitoes and are experiencing flu like symptoms then a consultation with a physician is recommended. The physician may take a detailed history of the travel and if Yellow Fever is suspected then a blood test will be conducted which will identify the offending virus and thus confirm the diagnosis of Yellow Fever.
How is Yellow Fever Treated?
As of now, there has been no cure for Yellow Fever and treatment is mainly focused on managing symptoms and assisting the immune system of the body fight off the virus. This can be done by providing the body with enough fluids mostly intravenously. The patient will also need extra oxygen to maintain enough oxygen supply to the body to carry out normal functioning of the major organs of the body.
Maintaining a normal blood pressure is also extremely important while the patient is recuperating from Yellow Fever. In some cases, blood transfusions may also be given to keep the blood supply normal. In some cases where the patient experiences renal dysfunction, then dialysis may be required. Treatment for other infections that may develop while recuperating from Yellow Fever is also essential so that the immune system is not compromised when fighting off Yellow Fever.
What is the Prognosis for Yellow Fever?
Yellow Fever usually goes away within a couple of weeks of treatment after the acute phase of the condition is over. In cases where the patient enters the toxic phase of the condition then the prognosis of such patients is extremely poor and the survival rate is not more than 50% due to Yellow Fever. People with compromised immune system and the elderly population are most at risk for developing complications from Yellow Fever.