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It gives me fever

It is the sound that drives me insane. If they could keep quiet, things will be so much easier for them. I would be able to tolerate them hovering over me at night, admiring my sleeping body and gentle, innocent smile. It would even be acceptable for them to extract some body fluids, leaving a little red welt and then leaving the room. But no. It is that incessant buzzing, the high pitched whining, the ceaseless zzzzzzzzzzzzzzznnning like a miniature flying hairdryer that makes me take the wet towel into my own hands.

Mosquitos, I dislike them. Much. They are even more loathed deeper into Africa where they can cause an array of rather ugly diseases such as yellow fever and malaria. Yellow fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes and common in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is also spread by mosquitos­ and occurs more in the tropics. Anyone can contract yellow fever, but old people are more at risk. Not only are they likely to be slower to slap the bloody insect with a wet towel but they have a higher risk of severe infection.

A simple injection in the upper arm, leaving only a little red welt, is all it takes to make you immune to the nasty but exotic-sounding yellow fever. Immunity normally lasts for about 10 years. Vaccination should take place at least 10 days before you depart for your safari in Africa.

Countries in Africa where you might exposed to the yellow fewer mosquito are:
Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Cameroon, Niger, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Chad, Sao Tome and Principe, Congo, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Somalia, Gambia. Sudan, Gabon, Rwanda, Guinea, Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Ghana, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Zaire.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms may develop 3 – 6 days after been bitten by an infected mosquito and include the following nice surprises:

  • Sudden fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Red eyes, face and tongue
  • Decreased urination
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
  • Bleeding (may progress to haemorrhage)
  • Coma
  • Delirium

Yellow fever has three stages:

1. Infection stage:
Symptoms include headache, muscle and joint aches. Look out for back ache, fever and blushing (red tongue). Loss of appetite, vomiting and jaundice are common.
Symptoms subside after about three or four days.

2. Remission stage:
Fever may subside and other symptoms will go away.
Most people will recover now, but about 15% of cases may get worse within 24 hours.

3. Intoxication stage:
Problems with organs occur. It could be heart, liver and kidney failure.
Bleeding disorders, seizures, coma and delirium may follow.|

 

Prevention

  • Vaccination is effective against yellow fever.
  • Consult your doctor about two weeks before you depart on your trip. This effective vaccine lasts for 10 years and provides protection within a week.
  • You will be provided with a yellow fever certificate which you need to show immigration officials.
  • While visiting a yellow fever area make sure you apply mosquito repellent, wear clothes that cover bare skin and sleep in a mosquito-protected room with screens or mosquito nets.

Treatment

  • Contact your doctor if you experience any symptoms within a week after your return.
  • Mild yellow fever, characterized by fever, headache and malaise may seem like flu. Diagnosis is made by blood tests.
  • Symptoms are treated and generally include rehydration and pain relief with paracetamol.
  • Drink lots of fluid and rest.
  • Dehydrated patients might need intravenous fluids to treat low blood pressure and low blood sugar.
  • Stay away from mosquitos, they might get infected if they bite you and can further spread the disease.
  • In severe cases, dialysis will assist with kidney failure and blood transfusions could be used in cases of bleeding disorders.

Outcome

  • The majority of cases will not show symptoms or have mild disease with complete recovery.
  • After you have recovered you may feel weak and tired for several months.
  • Death can occur in 20% – 50% of cases that develop severe disease.
  • You will be immune against possible subsequent yellow fever infections.
This entry was posted in Travel Tips.

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