Skip to main content

If you’re planning a safari or a trip to to an exotic locale, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should receive the yellow fever vaccination prior to embarking on your voyage.

Yellow fever is a severe viral disease that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease can be prevented through immunization for most individuals.

Travelers to the tropical regions of Africa and parts of South America are recommended to receive yellow fever vaccine. In addition, travelers are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites, including staying indoors at dawn and dusk, wearing DEET-containing insect repellant and insect repellant treated clothing with long sleeves and pants, and using bed nets or sleeping in screened rooms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of acquiring yellow fever for travelers in Africa is estimated at 50 cases per 100,000 travelers per two-week stay during the peak transmission season, which is July through October. The average risk in off-season is closer to 10 per 100,000 per two-week stay. In South America, the risk is somewhat less.

Symptoms and Treatment

It can take from three to six days to see signs of illness after contracting yellow fever. Most yellow fever infections are mild, and go undiagnosed, but severe cases can be life-threatening.

"Symptoms of severe infection include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, vomiting and backache. After a brief recovery period, the infection can lead to shock, bleeding, and kidney and liver failure. Liver failure causes jaundice, which yellows the skin and eyes,: says Melanie Mouzoon, M.D., Kelsey-Seybold's Managing Physician of Immunization Practices and Travel Medicine.

Treatment for yellow fever is based on the symptoms present. Rest, fluids and ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or paracetamol may relieve symptoms of fever and aching. Aspirin should be avoided.

"Because international regulations require proof of yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries, travelers should get vaccinated for yellow fever before visiting areas where yellow fever occurs," Dr. Mouzoon says.

In the United States, the vaccine is given only at designated yellow fever vaccination centers. If you are at continued risk of yellow fever infection, a booster dose is needed every 10 years.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about whether or not you should receive the yellow fever vaccine before traveling overseas.

For Information and Vaccinations

For information on current outbreaks, consult. To learn more about Travel Medicine services at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, call 713-442-TRIP (8747) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Kelsey-Seybold offers yellow fever and other vaccinations at convenient locations throughout Houston.

Alternate Text
Melanie Mouzoon, MD, FAAP, FABM

​I am privileged to work with newborns and to have the opportunity to help in the transition from "couple" to "family." I am a great advocate of supporting new moms in achieving successful breastfeeding and in helping new dads to become involved in the care and emotional support of their children. I believe that every baby deserves exceptional care and attention and I make my medical decisions very conservatively. Because I don't follow newborns once they leave the hospital, it is important to me that there are no unresolved issues and that the family is well-informed and able to care for the baby at discharge.