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What are symptoms of yellow fever?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

It can take several days for the symptoms of yellow fever to appear, although some people never have symptoms. At first, a person may complain of fever, body aches, headache, and nausea or vomiting. These symptoms are common to many viral illnesses. While most people will improve after a few days, about 15 percent will experience a second, more severe phase after a brief, symptom-free period. In this toxic phase, fever recurs, abdominal pain worsens, and vital organs may fail. Liver failure causes jaundice, a condition in which the skin becomes yellow, as well as spontaneous bleeding and bruising. The kidneys and other organs may also fail. During an outbreak of yellow fever, between 20 and 50 percent of people with severe cases--meaning those suffering from shock and failure of the liver and kidneys--will die.

Symptoms of yellow fever generally include chills, fever, vomiting, headache, backache and muscle ache. The severity of symptoms typically ranges from mild to deadly. Severe infections can lead to shock, bleeding, liver and kidney failure. Liver failure results in jaundice, which causes a yellowing of the skin. That's where the illness gets its name.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.