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Yellow Fever


Yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa. The virus is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Yellow fever is a very rare cause of illness in U.S. travelers. Illness ranges in severity from a self-limited febrile illness to severe liver disease with bleeding.

Yellow fever disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings, laboratory testing, and travel history, including the possibility of exposure to infected mosquitoes. There is no specific treatment for yellow fever; care is based on symptoms. Steps to prevent yellow fever virus infection include using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, and getting vaccinated.


  • The majority of persons infected with yellow fever virus have no illness or only mild illness.
  • In persons who develop symptoms, the incubation period (time from infection until illness) is typically 3–6 days.
  • The initial symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, general body aches, nausea, and vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Most persons improve after the initial presentation.
  • After a brief remission of hours to a day, roughly 15% of cases progress to develop a more severe form of the disease. The severe form is characterized by high fever, jaundice, bleeding, and eventually shock and failure of multiple organs.

Yellow fever vaccine is recommended for people aged ≥9 months who are traveling to or living in areas at risk for yellow fever virus transmission in South America and Africa. Yellow fever vaccine may be required for entry into certain countries. Yellow fever vaccination requirements and recommendations for specific countries are available on the CDC Travelers’ Health page.

Yellow fever vaccine is available at designated vaccination centers. Locations of centers are available from your local health department or on CDC’s Travelers’ Health Yellow Fever Vaccination Clinics page.

For most travelers, a single dose of yellow fever vaccine provides long-lasting protection and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. However, some travelers may require a booster dose. Also, certain countries might require a booster dose of the vaccine; visit Travelers’ Health for information on specific country requirements. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if you may need a dose of yellow fever vaccine or a booster dose before your trip to an area at risk for yellow fever.

For military-related travel/deployments, follow the most current Combatant Command (CCMD) Force Health Protection Guidance.  Additionally, yellow fever vaccination is required for countries if traveling from an endemic country.  A CDC 731, International Certificate for Vaccination or Prophylaxis (Yellow Shot Record) that contains an official Yellow Fever Certificate Stamp is required for all personnel traveling or deploying on official business.  See Vaccine Recommendations by AOR for more.

For all non-operational and leisure travel to endemic areas, follow the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) which recommends that a single life-time dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient for most travelers.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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