The fever which leads to jaundice like symptoms is named as 'yellow fever'. It is a type of viral infection which is common in Africa and Latin America. Every year, about thirty thousand people die because of yellow fever. Infected mosquitoes play an important role in transmission of the disease from monkeys to human beings and from one person to another. Yellow fever vaccination is the important preventive measure which offers almost lifetime protection from the disease. The benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the adverse effects associated with this vaccine. Here is some important information on the dreadful disease called yellow fever.
Yellow Fever and Vaccination
You must have come across the term 'yellow fever' while reading the history of Haitian Revolution which dates back to 1802. More than half of the French soldiers had died due to yellow fever. Large epidemics in Africa and Americas have resulted in deaths of millions of people due to yellow fever.
When the virus attacks a human body, the person experiences headache, muscle pain, fever, shivering, vomiting, loss of appetite and jaundice like symptoms, for example, pale and yellowish skin, yellowish eyes, dark yellow urine, weakness, etc. Some individuals may feel better after 3-4 days and recover within a week. But some who are not so lucky (about 15% of the patients) suffer from multi-organ dysfunction as the disease enters into the last stage.
Half of these patients survive with prompt treatment. The remaining half of the patients exhibit symptoms like high fever, liver and kidney failure, bleeding from mouth, nose, eyes, stomach, etc. Intoxication leads to brain damage, seizures, vomiting blood and coma, eventually leading to death within 15 days. The early symptoms of yellow fever being similar to symptoms of malaria, dengue, leptospirosis, viral hepatitis, etc., early stage diagnosis is quite difficult.
The vaccine for yellow fever was discovered by Max Theiler, in 1937. He was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine. Yellow fever vaccine cost is nominal and it has been in use since 1950. It contains the strain of the yellow fever virus (reduced strength) called 17D. The 17D vaccine is economical and quite safe as well. The certificate of yellow fever vaccination becomes valid 10 days after vaccination and it is valid for 10 years.
Yellow Fever Vaccine Side Effects
Immunization helps increase the immunity against yellow fever within seven days. Vaccination is essential for people working in tropical forest areas, or for people traveling to yellow fever endemic zones. About 95% of people who receive the vaccine, become immune to yellow fever after vaccination. Very few cases of serious side effects of yellow fever vaccine have been noticed. After vaccination, you are not supposed to donate blood for 14 days. Most people do not notice any side effects of yellow fever vaccination.
Mild Side Effects
About 25% people who receive yellow fever vaccine, suffer from mild to high fever, body ache and soreness. Reddening and swelling in the area where the shot is taken is quite natural. These side effects go away within a week.
Severe Side Effects
About one person in 55,000 people (0.0018%) can develop a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine constituents, mainly egg. So persons who have been diagnosed with egg allergy should discuss this with the doctor, prior to vaccination. They should check all the components of the vaccine.
About one person in 125,000 people (0.0008%) may suffer from damage to the nervous system. Newborn infants, babies or those adults who have very weak immune system are likely to suffer from neurologic disease which involves confusion, weak muscles, paralysis, loss of sensation; or encephalitis (inflammation of brain leading to headache, fever, fatigue, seizures, convulsions, memory loss, etc.).
About 1 person in 250,000 people (0.0004%) can be a victim of organ failure. Vaccination can prove to be fatal for more than half of these victims. It should be noted that such severe side effects have never been noticed after a booster dose, that is given every 10 years to those who are at risk. People belonging to the age group '60 and above' are more likely to suffer from organ failure after vaccination. So they should get examined by a doctor before vaccination.
Sometimes, vaccination results in yellow fever like symptoms in the vaccinated person. This condition is referred to as YEL-AVD. It is believed that certain genetic factors are responsible for the development of YEL-AVD symptoms. Development of YEL-AVD also depends upon the ability of the virus in the vaccine to cause the disease.
Yellow fever vaccination is mandatory for entry to certain countries. Pregnant, breast-feeding women, and infants should be exempted during yellow fever vaccination. Children and adults belonging to the age group 9 months to 59 years should be vaccinated; if they are traveling to or living in yellow fever endemic zones. Lab technicians who handle the blood/urine samples of patients diagnosed with yellow fever should also be vaccinated for lifetime protection.
Remember, a vaccine is just like a medicine. Everyone takes medicines which come with side effects. Certain medications can cause serious or life-threatening side effects. Vaccination is the best way to prevent death due to yellow fever and the chances of death due to yellow fever vaccine side effects are extremely low. The best way is to consult your physician as soon as you notice any symptoms. Take care.