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General Health Information - Diseases | Malaria | Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever

Travelling in Africa holds its shares of dangers that you need to be aware of. The average visitor staying in one of the various lodges or camps need not worry too much about local unrest or the wildlife. The dangers that they need to be aware of are those that they cannot see.

The disease that is most often associated with Africa is malaria. While this is certainly one of the endemic diseases of the continent, it is not the only disease that threatens both visitors and locals alike. While it can be and is controlled, yellow fever is still a threat that you need to be aware of.

Yellow fever is a viral disease that that remains a problem in many sub-Saharan African countries. While the disease is pretty much under control, the battle to eradicate the disease completely is far from over. At the time there is no known cure for yellow fever, but there is a very effective vaccination that has been used successfully all over the world.

Yellow fever is transmitted via the bite of mosquito, like malaria, but is not caused by a parasite in the same way that malaria is. It is a virus that the mosquito spreads from one infected individual to another. The disease typically reveals itself about six days after a patient has been bitten by a mosquito.

The symptoms have a rapid onset and include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • body pains
  • nausea
  • jaundice (a yellow pallor in the skin and eyes)
  • bleeding in the skin
  • vomiting with blood in the vomit leading the the characteristic 'black vomit'

The disease progresses quickly. Patients may enter a coma that is swiftly followed by death if not treated. Treatment is symptomatic along with the replacement of lost fluids and blood. If treated early, most patient survive with few lasting effects.

Before heading into Africa, it is recommended that you obtain the vaccine. The vaccine can be obtained from most hospitals or physicians. You should receive a certificate of vaccination, called a Yellow Card, after your vaccination. It is important that you take this certificate with you when you travel to Africa. Immigration officials will ask you for this certificate when you enter and leave a country where yellow fever is a problem. People without this certificate may be detained or even quarantined for their own safety and the safety of the people around them.

While yellow fever is still a very real danger when travelling in some countries in Africa, you can ensure that you are protected with the very effective vaccine that is readily available. There is no reason for worry if you take the right precautions before leaving on your African safari.


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