Mosquitoes are a nuisance for most people, but for some individuals, mosquito bites can lead to serious disease, including yellow fever. While not much of a concern in the United States, yellow fever is still fairly common in areas of South America and Africa, meaning people who travel to these areas will need to pay special attention to their living conditions while visiting. Additionally, if you plan to travel to an area where yellow fever is more common, you should strongly consider receiving the yellow fever vaccine prior to leaving in order to protect yourself.
What is Yellow Fever?
Yellow fever is a virus and infectious disease that can lead to symptoms that range from mild to severe. The disease gets its name from the potential to cause jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. This occurs because the disease causes problems in the liver that prevent the organ from properly processing bilirubin. This substance is usually broken down in the liver, but when the liver is diseased, bilirubin accumulates in the blood and can present itself outwardly.
Other symptoms of yellow fever may include chills and feverish temperature, body aches, increased risk of bleeding due to blood clotting problems and nausea. In most cases, these symptoms will present themselves within a week of exposure to the virus, meaning you may not realize that you have been affected until after a trip to an area where yellow fever is common. For this reason, it would be a good idea to monitor yourself for symptoms upon returning from overseas travel and limiting your exposure to the public until you are cleared for symptoms.
Does Medicare Cover Yellow Fever Vaccine?
Original Medicare benefits cover a number of vaccinations under Part B, including the flu shot; however, the program does not typically cover voluntary vaccinations against preventable disease that are generally acquired through travel abroad. As a result, if you opt to travel outside of the United States to an area of the world where a disease is more prevalent, you will likely need to pay for the vaccine yourself. This is because Medicare benefits offer coverage for medically necessary items, and if you’re electing to travel, then you are assuming the risk.
It is possible that a Medicare Advantage plan may provide added benefits for travel vaccinations. Additionally, you may be able to find specific travel insurance plans outside of Medicare that provide coverage for travel-related medical coverage, including vaccines.
Others Methods of Preventing Yellow Fever
Although vaccination is important if you’re going to travel areas that are known for yellow fever, there are additional steps you can take to prevent the disease. Because mosquitoes are the most common carrier of yellow fever virus, wearing bug repellent and utilizing mosquito netting while sleeping, especially in open environments, is crucial to limiting exposure.
Additionally, avoid areas where mosquitoes are known to congregate, including areas with standing water. It would also be a good idea to consider clothing that limits skin exposure, and there are clothing options available that have been pre-treated with mosquito repellent that can stop the problem before it starts.
If you do end up receiving a mosquito bite, do not scratch it. Instead, use approved anti-itch medications to relieve the sensation and protect your skin from the possibility of infection, and always let medical staff know if you have been to an area of the world recently that is known for yellow fever prior to seeking medical treatment. This will limit exposure to others in the event that you have acquired the disease.