YELLOW FEVER: 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Yellow fever causes your eyes to become yellow. But there are many other diseases that change the colour of your eyes to yellow. So how can you be sure that what you are having is yellow fever? Or at least what could make you suspicious that you may have caught the disease? Is yellow fever a treatable disease? Can you protect yourself from getting infected? These questions and many more shall be clear to you when you finish reading this post. Read on:
It is caused by a virus
Yellow fever is caused by a virus known as flavivirus. This disease and other similar diseases are grouped together and called Haemorrhagic fevers (meaning fevers that cause bleeding). If you catch one of the haemorrhagic fevers you can lose blood from your body. The bleeding may occur through your skin, gums or other parts of your body.
Yellow Fever is a disease of monkeys
Yellow fever is a disease of monkeys but spreads to humans through the bite of mosquitoes.
Found in Africa and the Americas
The disease is mostly found in the rainforests of West and Central Africa and those of South and Central America. Terrible outbreaks of yellow fever occur in these regions of the world.
Spread by Mosquitoes
Again this disease is spread by mosquitoes. Different types of mosquitoes spread it: in the forest the mosquito known as Aedes africanus and Haemagogus species spread it from monkeys to you. These mosquitoes live on top of trees and get the chance to bite you when trees are felled. Another type of mosquito known as Aedes aegypti is responsible for spreading the disease from one person to another. This type of mosquito lives and breed inside town so can easily move from your house to another. However when monkeys invade your village they can spread the virus directly to humans. This is done by contaminating your environment with their blood, urine or other body fluid.
Sub Saharan Africa leads again
This region of the world bears the burden of yellow fever more than any other. About a quarter of a million people catch the disease each year throughout the world most of whom live in Africa. Out of the total number that gets infected with yellow fever up to 15% may die.
Signs and symptoms
These include fever; headache; muscle pain; redness of eyes (in the beginning); reduced heart beat; lower back pain; belly pain; feeling sleepy; nausea and vomiting; yellowness of eyes.
Later you may lose your blood which shows as tiny red spots on your skin. Your may also notice bleeding from your gums or passing blood in your stool (dark poop). This bleeding starts when your liver gets damaged and changes occur in your blood. Liver and kidney failure may occur followed by seizures and coma.
Other similar diseases
Yellow fever resembles some diseases such as malaria; typhoid; viral hepatitis; Leptospirosis; Ebola; Lassa fever; and Aflatoxin poisoning. Therefore it is very important to rush to the hospital early to confirm the diagnosis before it becomes too late.
This may involve admission into the hospital and nursing care to support you scale through the hard times. Your doctor will ensure that you get enough fluids (body water) and you are making adequate urine. You may also need blood transfusion if you lose a lot of blood. Also you will be kept (isolated) in a separate room away from other patients. This is because you can spread the virus to other people (patients, visitors or workers) in the hospital through your blood or body fluids.
Prevention of yellow fever
There is a vaccine which protects you for 10 years. Your doctor need to assess you to decide whether you should have the vaccine or not. Some serious side effects may occur as a reaction to the vaccine especially if your immunity is low, you are pregnant or old.
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Walker, B. R., Colledge, N. R., Ralston, S. H. & Penman, I. D. (eds)(2014) Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine. 22nd ed. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. London
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