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Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

The majority of people infected with yellow fever virus will either not have symptoms, or have mild symptoms and completely recover.

For people who develop symptoms, the time from infection until illness is typically 3 to 6 days.

Because there is a risk of severe disease, all people who develop symptoms of yellow fever after traveling to or living in an area at risk for the virus should see their healthcare provider. Once you have been infected, you are likely to be protected from future infections.

Symptoms

  • Most people will not have symptoms.
  • Some people will develop yellow fever illness with initial symptoms including:
    • Sudden onset of fever
    • Chills
    • Severe headache
    • Back pain
    • General body aches
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Fatigue (feeling tired)
    • Weakness
    • Most people with the initial symptoms improve within one week.
    • For some people who recover, weakness and fatigue (feeling tired) might last several months.
  • A few people will develop a more severe form of the disease.
    • For 1 out of 7 people who have the initial symptoms, there will be a brief remission (a time you feel better) that may last only a few hours or for a day, followed by a more severe form of the disease.
  • Severe symptoms include:
    • High fever
    • Yellow skin (jaundice)
    • Bleeding
    • Shock
    • Organ failure
  • Severe yellow fever disease can be deadly. If you develop any of these symptoms, see a healthcare provider immediately.
  • Among those who develop severe disease, 30-60% die.

Diagnosis

  • Yellow fever infection is diagnosed based on laboratory testing, a person’s symptoms, and travel history.
  • More information on diagnostic testing is available on the For Healthcare Providers page.

Treatment

  • There is no medicine to treat or cure infection from yellow fever.
  • Rest, drink fluids, and use pain relievers and medication to reduce fever and relieve aching.
  • Avoid certain medications, such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), which may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • People with severe symptoms of yellow fever infection should be hospitalized for close observation and supportive care.
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