Yellow fever is a devastating disease spread by the bites of mosquitoes (and primates!) and is still prevalent in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The yellow fever virus has probably existed in some form for thousands of years and is believed to have originated in Africa from other very similar viruses. Anyone planning a trip to the above-mentioned locations should take all recommended and necessary precautions-and at the very least receive a yellow fever vaccine. Or should they?
Traveling to these geographical locations where the disease is still rampant is risky without a vaccine, of that there is no doubt. No one would call a vacation a success if they came home with a potentially deadly disease in their bloodstreams. Yet anyone who would rush out to get an inoculation without doing his or her homework on the effects and risks would be careless. So here are the facts regarding the vaccine…
Let us weigh the pros and cons of a yellow fever vaccine, shall we? First off, let’s look at what happens to a person who is infected with the virus. Symptoms include high temperature, bloodshot eyes, furry tongue, nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, muscle pains, kidney and liver inflammation, jaundice, gastrointestinal bleeding, delirium, convulsion…and vomiting blood. Although most people, between 15 and 50 percent of patients with severe form of this disease succumb to it and die.
Now for the vaccination: The yellow fever vaccine has been administered for several decades. It is a live-but-safe virus vaccine and just a single dose protects for a little over ten years. After the ten-year mark a booster shot is recommended. The vaccine can be administered to most anyone over the age of nine months. It is recommended that pregnant women or persons suffering from any form of immune system suppression consult with a professional. This physician can help you weigh the risks of exposure against the risks of immunization. Currently a non-live virus vaccine is being reviewed by the Federal Drug Administration and hopes to be on the market as soon as possible.
All in all, it seems clear that anyone traveling to the above-mentioned areas would benefit from receiving a yellow fever vaccination. It is rather simple to state that the pros completely outweigh the cons when it comes to whether to receive a travel vaccines or not. No, it doesn’t take an Einstein to know that the terms “furry tongue” and “gastrointestinal bleeding” are nothing to be scoffed at.
Once you decide to receive this vaccine-and actually do so-you will receive a certificate from your travel doctor that will state that you have, in fact, received the medicine. This certificate is needed to enter many countries still plagued by the scourge of yellow fever. The certificate will be valid ten days after the actual shot and will remain valid for ten full years, making future travel to such places a little less complicated.