Scarlet, canary yellow and shimmering blue feathered birds flecked with iridescent green, chirp songs to greet the sunrise as you awake. But you do not notice. Thor’s hammer pounds your head in fury. Your eyes close from the pain. The smell of your breakfast sends waves of queasiness through your rumbling mid-section. The nausea increases as you rise. Your back is a slab of concrete. Again you try getting up and your muscles scream so loudly you move in the slow motion of a special effects film. Your palm burns from the 102 plus degrees F radiating from your forehead as you brush your hair back trying to stimulate yourself to alertness. A trip hammer thunders inside you at 100 to 110 beats per minute where your heart should be. Good morning. You have Yellow Fever.
A few days after the sudden onset of symptoms, as you worsen, you’ll become jaundiced and watch as your skin yellows to the point you more resemble a Halloween caricature than a dying person. The destruction of your liver cells results in the accumulation of yellow bile pigments in your skin, giving the disease its name. Your heart will slow to around 50 beats per minute. The rumbling in your stomach is your gastrointestinal tract bleeding. You vomit the characteristic black blood of Yellow Fever. It will become much worse. You don’t have long to suffer though. Death usually occurs between the fourth and eighth day after the onset of the disease.
As little as three days, but more than likely around two weeks ago you were bitten by a species of an Aëdes aegypti mosquito that was itself infected by sucking the blood of an infected monkey or other infected primate or a sick person. If you are one of the rare cases who recovers, the disease will never recur, one attack providing immunity for life. Yellow Fever is an untreatable, mosquito-borne disease which is endemic in Central America, some parts of South America and much of sub-Sahara Africa. Along both the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts from Mexico to Panama, Colombia and Ecuador an alert caused by outbreaks of Yellow Fever is currently raging. From November of 2003 until mid-January of this year nearly a score of deaths from Yellow Fever have been recorded. Immunization is of extreme importance. There is a good vaccine available which protects you for up to ten years. Many countries require an international vaccination certificate if you are traveling to or from an infected or endemic area because “many parts of the world are inhabited by mosquitoes capable of carrying this devastating disease and no one wants to see it spread beyond its present range", according to Dr. Jane Wilson Howarth in “Bugs, Bites & Bowels".
There is no specific medical treatment for Yellow Fever once it is contracted. Care consists of treating the symptoms of the disease by preventing dehydration and reducing fever. Bed rest is also important states Dirk G. Schroeder, ScD. , MPH, in “Staying Healthy in Asia, Africa and Latin America". In 1939 the South African physician Max Theiler developed a vaccine that confers immunity to the disease. The vaccine is not recommended for people with a severe allergy to eggs, children under 9 months of age, during pregnancy or in people who are immuno-supressed (e. g. cancer and AIDS sufferers, or people on high dose steroids). Before traveling, you should discuss your options with a doctor or immunization center. If you are considering travel to Mexico (or other countries in Central and South America), get vaccinated and carry the yellow health/vaccination records card you will be issued to avoid future problems. Take care. Don’t be a victim.
NOTE: You cannot enter a Yellow Fever area (i. e. Panama, Colombia, Brazil, etc. ) without being vaccinated and you MUST show proof of vaccination within the past ten years.
Larry M. Lynch is a bi-lingual copywriter and photographer specializing in business, travel, food and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America, Mexico News and Brazil magazines. As an expert author he can ghost-write original articles for your articles marketing campaign and content for your website, newsletter, blog or e-zine. Please e-mail him now with your requirements or details at: firstname.lastname@example.org .