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Yellow Fever

Cause: Yellow fever virus.

Illness and treatment: Early symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and vomiting. Later signs include jaundice, gum bleeding, and bloody vomit in addition to liver and kidney failure. Twenty to 50% of jaundiced cases are fatal. Treatment is supportive.

Sources: Yellow fever occurs in tropical areas of Africa and South America. There are 2 transmission cycles, a jungle cycle involving non-human primates and an urban cycle involving humans. Transmission is by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Prevention: When in endemic countries, avoid mosquito bites by wearing appropriate clothing, using insect repellents, using bed nets, and making sure windows and doors are "bug tight." Consult with a travel clinic or the CDC Travelers’ Health website for recommendations about vaccination.

Recent Washington trends: No cases, with the exception of a vaccine-associated infection in 2002, have been reported in over 50 years of surveillance.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To identify cases of yellow fever associated with travel
  • To prevent further spread of the disease within the United States

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: immediately notifiable to local health jurisdiction
  • Health care facilities: immediately notifiable to local health jurisdiction
  • Laboratories: isolation of yellow fever virus, or detection of viral antigen, antibody or nucleic acid immediately notifiable to local health jurisdiction of the patient’s residence; specimen submission is required – serum (2 business days)
  • Local health jurisdictions: suspected and confirmed cases are immediately notifiable to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) (1-877-539-4344)