My 34-year old daughter and family are about to move to Kenya. The travel jabs didn't affect her husband or children but she suffered an extreme reaction to the yellow-fever jab, in the form of an arthritis-like joint pain and swollen lymph glands. Tests have concluded that this was nothing worse than a bad allergic reaction and should pass within six months. She is small-boned and very thin: could she have had too great a dosage for her body mass? I hope to go to Kenya to visit, but am now concerned about my own possible reactions to the jab. I am 61 and, unlike my daughter, not small. What is the likelihood of a genetically linked allergic reaction? And is there an allergy test I could have?
Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:
Severe long-lasting side effects from the yellow-ever vaccine are very unusual. It is common to get minor side effects from the jab, such as soreness and redness at the site of injection, and sometimes a headache, fever or muscle aches. But I have never heard of the sort of reaction your daughter got, and it is not listed as a recognised side effect by the manufacturers. Nevertheless, some individuals can have idiosyncratic reactions to vaccines that are unpredictable. A genetically linked allergic reaction is extremely unlikely, and I don't think there is any point having an allergy test. Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. It can be a nasty disease, and you would be wise to be vaccinated. Also, do your best to avoid mosquito bites, both to prevent yellow fever and malaria.
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