Holiday Traveller

What is Yellow Fever?

A disease found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America, yellow fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes; it can result in illness and even death. The name “yellow fever” derives from a complication of the disease where the skin turns yellow - this is also known as jaundice.

What are the symptoms?

It can take several days before symptoms appear, usually within 3 to 6 days. The initial symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and an overall feeling of weakness. While some people will get better after this stage, about 15% of those infected will enter the “toxic” stage which can lead to death in up to 20 -50% of those who develop the severe illness. Symptoms in this stage include high fever, visible bleeding, jaundice and kidney and liver failure; death is due to multi-organ failure.

What countries is Yellow Fever present in?

There are currently 43 countries where yellow fever has been declared a risk. Proof of vaccination for travel may be required if you are travelling to or from one of these countries, with many other countries also requiring vaccination for entry.

Australia’s list of yellow fever declared countries* includes:

Africa South America & Central America
Angola Argentina – Misiones Province
Benin Bolivia
Burkina Faso Brazil
Burundi Colombia
Cameroon Ecuador excluding Galapagos Islands
Central African Republic French Guiana
Chad Guyana
Congo, Democratic Republic of the Panama
Congo, Republic of the Paraguay
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Peru
Equatorial Guinea Suriname
Ethiopia Trinidad
Gabon Venezuela
Sierra Leone  
South Sudan  

*from 1 November 2012

How is Yellow Fever transmitted and contracted?

There are 3 transmission cycles for yellow fever:

  1. Jungle cycle involves transmission of the virus between non-human primates (i.e. monkeys) and mosquito species which in turn transmit the virus to humans living, visiting or working in these areas.
  2. In Africa there is an intermediate cycle (savannah) which involves the transmission of the virus from mosquitoes to humans living or working in jungle border areas. Here the virus can be transmitted from monkeys to humans or from humans to humans via mosquitoes.
  3. The urban cycle involves the transmission of the virus between humans through bites from feeding urban-dwelling mosquitoes. The virus is introduced into this setting by a individuals who were infected in the jungle or savannah.

How is Yellow Fever treated?

There is no specific cure for yellow fever: infected people are hospitalised for treatment of their symptoms and close observation.

How can I stay protected while travelling?

Yellow fever is vaccine-preventable. If you are planning to travel to one of the yellow fever declared countries above, it is crucial to get vaccinated for your safety and to ensure you have no issues with entry into other countries. It is also important that while you are on your trip, you avoid mosquitoes – use insect repellent, avoid perfume or cologne and wear light coloured, full-coverage clothing where possible.

Do I really need a vaccination?

Yellow fever is one of a few mandatory vaccinations and may be a requirement if you are travelling to or from a country with a declared presence of yellow fever. Australians returning home from a yellow fever endemic country are required to show a vaccination certificate (for travellers over 1 year of age) if they are arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission, and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through an airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission, excluding Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, the island of Tobago and limited to Misiones Province in Argentina.

Who can provide me with a yellow fever vaccination?

Travelvax is a specialist provider of travel health advice and medical services for those travelling overseas. We provide a one-stop travel health consultation to make your preparations as smooth as possible.

Our staff are passionate, enthusiastic and experienced in providing travel health services and will adapt your travel health plan to your personal needs and itinerary.

If you require vaccination against yellow fever, call our travel health advisory line on 1300 360 164 for more information.