Hesperian Health Guides

Yellow Fever

In this chapter:

Yellow fever is most common in Africa and South America. People in tropical rain forests can get jungle yellow fever, but the most common kind is called urban yellow fever.

Most people recover completely from yellow fever and develop immunity, which means they will not get yellow fever again. A small number of people get severe yellow fever, but with treatment they too usually recover.

Signs of yellow fever
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  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain (especially backache)
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slow pulse
  • Eyes sensitive to light
  • Redness of skin, eyes, tongue

For most people, the illness goes away after 3 or 4 days.

Treatment can help you feel better. But watch for danger signs.

Danger signs of severe yellow fever

In severe yellow fever, after a few hours or after the first day of feeling better, a high fever returns with some of these signs:

  • Jaundice (white part of the eye or light colored skin is yellow)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in vomit that can be red or brown or black feces (from bleeding inside the stomach)

If any of these danger signs appear, go to a hospital immediately.


Vaccination prevents yellow fever (see the Vaccines chapter. Also avoid mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from breeding .

This page was updated:14 Sep 2020