Yellow fever

Yellow fever is a virus that can cause a flu-like illness. It can develop into a more serious illness which has a high fatality rate. Large outbreaks can occur - International Health Regulations are in place to help prevent the disease spreading. It is rare in travellers – the last case in the UK was reported in 1930.


Fever, headache, tiredness, low back pain, nausea and vomiting. Severe infection causes yellowing of the skin, bleeding and organ failure.

How do you catch yellow fever?

Yellow fever is spread by an infected daytime-biting mosquito.

Incubation period

3 - 6 days.


Diagnosis is by a blood test.


Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with loose-fitting clothing and using an effective insect repellent. A single yellow fever vaccine can give lifetime protection for those over 9 months of age who are travelling to a high risk area. It is only available from registered yellow fever centres, such as MASTA, after a careful assessment by a travel nurse, as serious reactions to the vaccine have occurred – although these are rare.


There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. Symptoms are treated as required, with hospital care if necessary. People who recover from the virus have immunity for life.