The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported the resurgence of Yellow Fever Virus (YFV) in Africa and worries that any major outbreak in an urban setting could be catastrophic.
According to WHO, yellow fever is an infectious disease that spreads through mosquito bites and can be fatal if left untreated. Its symptoms take 3-6 days to develop and include chills, headache, fever, muscle aches, and backaches.
So far, the global health agency has identified 34 African countries that are either endemic for, or have regions that are endemic for yellow fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further notes that the risk of YFV transmission is higher in areas that have had experienced previous outbreaks of the virus and reports that countries in West, Central, and East Africa are at risk of experiencing a major outbreak of yellow fever.
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Thus far, the following three countries are experiencing active outbreaks and interventions:
Yesterday, Dr. Fortunato Silva, the clinical director at Americo Boavida in Angola was quoted by the BBC saying that the number of deaths recorded in the current outbreak of yellow fever is worrying.
At least 345 people in Angola have died since YFV broke out last December, according to a WHO report released last week. The deceased are among more than 3,000 positive cases that have been identified in the country.
“This is the most serious outbreak of yellow fever that Angola has faced in 30 years,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
Democratic Republic of Congo
On Monday, the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of Congo declared YFV endemic in the capital, Kinshasa. Officials believe it may have spread from the neighboring Angola. According to DRC’s Minister for Health Mr. Felix Kabange, seven of DRC’s proven cases are indigenous, while 58 have been imported from Angola. Kabange also confirmed that at least five Congolese have already died from the virus, while WHO has positively identified more than 4,000 cases of YFV between the two countries.
At least 68 cases of yellow fever have been confirmed in Uganda since April this year, with a majority of the cases reported in the southwestern part of Uganda The country’s Ministry of Health insists that none of those cases is linked to the large outbreak in Angola. The Ugandan government is already working with the World Health Organization to control the spread.
WHO says almost 18 million doses of yellow fever vaccine have been distributed in emergency vaccination campaigns within these three countries.