Latest information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) risks
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Yellow Fever 

Introduction

Yellow fever is a disease that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The most common symptoms are fever, muscle pain with prominent backache, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.

A small proportion of those infected with yellow fever will develop severe disease. Symptoms of severe disease include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, stomach pain with vomiting and problems with liver and kidney function. Half of those that develop severe disease will die within 7 – 10 days.

Recommendations for Travellers

You are advised to use personal protective measures to reduce mosquito bites when visiting areas where yellow fever is present. The mosquito that spreads yellow fever bites mainly during the day so wearing appropriate clothing and using insect repellents will help you avoid mosquito bites.

A yellow fever vaccine called Stamaril® is available to protect you against yellow fever. In addition, certain countries require you to produce a yellow fever certificate to enter the country. Please refer to the individual country pages for disease information and certificate requirements.

Where a certificate is not required for entry into a country, this does not necessarily mean there is no risk of disease and the yellow fever vaccine might still be recommended. For more information, please see the individual country pages.

Locate your Nearest Yellow Fever Centre

The yellow fever vaccine can only be administered at designated yellow fever centres. To locate your nearest yellow fever centre please follow the links below:

Vaccination

Yellow fever vaccination is carried out for two different purposes:

  • To prevent the international spread of the disease by protecting countries from the risk of importing or spreading yellow fever virus:
    • If you are entering into a country that has the correct mosquito and monkey population, from a country where the monkey population can be infected with the yellow fever virus, then yellow fever can be introduced in to the receiving country.
    • The receiving country requires proof of vaccination to prevent the spread of yellow fever.
    • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is most often required when coming from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission (including, sometimes, if you transit through such countries).
    • Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination from all travellers and this will be indicated on individual country pages.
  • To protect individual travellers who may be exposed to yellow fever infection.
    • As yellow fever may be fatal if you have not been vaccinated, vaccination is recommended for all travellers (with a few exceptions) visiting areas where there is a current or periodic risk of yellow fever transmission.
    • An individual risk assessment is indicated before receiving yellow fever vaccine.

Please see the yellow fever vaccine page for further information.

You should read the yellow fever vaccine page prior to receiving the vaccine and ensure you are given the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) for Stamaril after vaccination.

Side effects following yellow fever vaccine are usually mild and can consist of fever, headache, nausea, joint and muscle pain. Serious complications are rare and have an increased incidence in those:

  • over 60 years of age
  • who are immunosuppressed
  • with a thymus disorder or have had their thymus removed (for any reason)
  • who have a first degree relative who has had a serious complication to the vaccine

Overview of Disease

Yellow fever is found only in parts of Central and South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Yellow fever risk areas can be viewed on a map here.

Yellow fever is a viral infection that is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito which mainly bites during daylight hours.

The Illness

The virus has a short incubation period of 3-6 days.

  • The most common symptoms are fever, muscle pain with prominent backache, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.
  • Infection with yellow fever results in lifelong natural immunity in individuals who recover.
  • A small proportion of those infected with yellow fever will develop severe disease. Symptoms of severe disease include: jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine, stomach pain with vomiting and problems with liver and kidney function.
    • Half of those that develop severe disease will die within 7 – 10 days.

Treatment 

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever virus. Early diagnosis and supportive hospital treatment improves survival rates.

back to top