Yellow Fever (jungle yellow fever, urban yellow fever)

Last Reviewed: July 2017

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a disease caused the bite of a mosquito infected with the yellow fever virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is most commonly associated with spreading yellow fever. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are not found naturally in New York State.

Who gets yellow fever?

Yellow fever can affect people of any age especially people travelling to areas where mosquitoes infected with yellow fever virus are found.

How is yellow fever spread?

Yellow fever is spread by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. A mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person who has yellow fever in his or her blood. Direct spread of yellow fever from one person to another does not occur. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are not found naturally in New York State.

What are the symptoms of yellow fever and when do they appear?

Most people infected with yellow fever virus have no illness or mild illness. People who get symptoms usually have a sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, backache, weakness, nausea (a sick feeling in the stomach) and vomiting. Most people feel better after these initial symptoms. However, some people will develop more severe symptoms. As the disease progresses, yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin, slowing and weakening of the heart rate, bleeding of the gums, and bloody urine may occur. Symptoms typically occur within 3 to 6 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

How is yellow fever diagnosed?

Symptoms, travel history, and a physical exam can cause a health care provider to suspect yellow fever. Laboratory tests confirm diagnosis by seeing if the virus or antibodies against the virus are present in the person.

What is the treatment for yellow fever?

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. People traveling to areas where yellow fever exists should speak with their health care provider about receiving the yellow fever vaccine.

Does past infection with yellow fever make a person immune?

Yes. People who have had yellow fever generally develop lifelong immunity.

How can yellow fever be prevented?

It is important for travelers to be vaccinated before visiting areas where yellow fever exists such as Africa or South America. In addition, travelers should take action to prevent mosquito bites including using EPA-registered insect repellent and wearing long sleeve shirts, long pants, and socks outdoors. More information on repellents: Environmental Protection Agency - insect-repellents.

In addition:

  • Be sure to follow label directions.
  • Try to reduce the use of repellents by dressing in long sleeves and pants tucked into socks or boots.
  • Children should only handle repellents with adult supervision. Adults should apply repellents to their own hands first and then gently spread on the child's exposed skin. Avoid applying directly to children's hands. After returning indoors, wash your child's treated skin and clothing with soap and water or give the child a bath.
  • Do not apply near eyes, nose or mouth and use sparingly around ears.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.