yellow fever


: an acute infectious disease that is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, is marked by symptoms (such as fever, muscle pain, and headache) of sudden onset which typically resolve within a few days but are sometimes followed by more serious symptoms (such as jaundice, high fever, and hemorrhage), and is caused by a flavivirus (species Yellow fever virus of the genus Flavivirus) transmitted especially by the yellow-fever mosquito

Examples of yellow fever in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Gorgas relied on the research of another U.S. Army doctor, Major Walter Reed, whose research led to the discovery of the transmission of yellow fever by mosquitoes. Thomas Bostick, Forbes, 19 Feb. 2024 In 1799, yellow fever struck New York City and Perkins rushed in with his tractor rods to save the day — and died of yellow fever. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2024 Firstly, the yellow fever outbreak has subsided, perhaps due to a combination of the virus' natural cycle and the vaccination campaign. Christina Larson The Associated Press, Arkansas Online, 3 Aug. 2023 This increased the risk of the spread of disease, especially yellow fever. David Goodhue Miami Herald (tns), al, 3 May 2023 With the rains came standing water, the perfect breeding ground for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carried yellow fever and proved a crucial ally against the French. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, 3 May 2023 This discovery helped eradicate yellow fever in Panama and Cuba. Monica Cull, Discover Magazine, 22 Sep. 2022 One of the most concerning mutations appeared in about 78% in collected specimens of Aedes aegypti -- one of the most infamous species of mosquito and a major vector of dengue, yellow fever and Zika virus, according to the study. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 21 Dec. 2022 Some of the most severe diseases mosquitoes carry and spread among humans are malaria, West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalitis, yellow fever, dengue and Zika, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 6 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'yellow fever.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1738, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of yellow fever was in 1738

Dictionary Entries Near yellow fever

Cite this Entry

“Yellow fever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

yellow fever

: an infectious disease of warm regions (as sub-Saharan Africa) that is marked by fever, headache, muscle aches, yellowness of the skin, and sometimes death and that is caused by a virus transmitted by a mosquito

Medical Definition

yellow fever

: an infectious disease of sudden onset that is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America and includes acute symptoms (as fever, muscle pain, headache, and nausea) which typically resolve within a few days but are sometimes followed by more serious symptoms (as jaundice, abdominal pain, high fever, hemorrhage, and kidney impairment) which may lead to death

Note: Yellow fever is caused by a single-stranded RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus (species Yellow fever virus) transmitted from monkey to human or human to human especially by the yellow-fever mosquito.

Few Americans realize that yellow fever was not always a disease of the faraway tropics. In 1878, an outbreak of yellow fever—the virus carried to the United States in mosquitoes from Africa—killed 20,000 people in the Mississippi Valley.Mary Roach, The New York Times Book Review
Although mass vaccination campaigns in Africa between the 1940s and 1960s led to the near disappearance of yellow fever, inadequately immunized populations and urbanization set the stage for the disease to reemerge. By the 1990s, there were an estimated 200 000 annual cases, with 30 000 deaths.Clem Spalding, The Journal of the American Medical Association

called also yellow jack

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