December 17, 2017

Yellow Fever death toll in Angola flares up

By Jude Titus

 The recent outbreak of the yellow fever in the country has raised the death toll to 225 people with an estimated 1, 600 cases recorded so far.

This has been said by the Angola Health Minister Luis Sambo.

‘‘We need to increase the response capacity in both technological resources such as medicines and vaccines, as well as in personnel,’’ the Minister indicated.

Speaking to Journalists after a meeting with the World Health Organization [WHO] officials, Sambo indicated that the disease has currently spread to almost all the provinces in the country as 16 of the nation’s 18 provinces have experienced the outbreak.

There has been a battle to combat the spread of the disease but there are fears that there is a dangerous vaccine shortage.

WHO has therefore urged Angola health officials to only give the vaccine in areas where yellow fever is spreading fast to prevent more deaths.

The ramped-up battle against yellow fever had already strained the global supply of the vaccine. Many countries in Africa have made the shot part of their routine vaccination schedules most importantly for the volatile children.

Massive catch-up campaigns and sensitization were also started to protect people that have never received the vaccine before.

‘‘I think all the specialists in my field agree that there is a real and present danger of having a major outbreak of yellow fever that is uncontrollable. It’s a ticking time bomb- one stopgap measure might be to lower the vaccine dose,’’ indicated Paul Reiter, a medical entomologist in Paris.

In the wake of the newly discovered yellow fever, the Government of Kenya last month issued an alert after Kenya reported two out of three suspected cases of the yellow fever and a patient succumbing to the disease at the Kenyatta National Hospital.

The Ministry of Health in Kenya took the matter very seriously and scaled up surveillance and called on all Kenyans to be very keen and rush to the nearest health facilities if any symptoms arose to avoid an outbreak.

Dr. Jackson Kioko, the acting Director of Medical Services told health workers at entry points to ensure that all travellers from high risk countries presented their valid yellow fever vaccination certificates.

‘‘Investigate anyone with a history of travel to Angola presenting with acute onset of fever, followed by jaundice within two weeks of onset of first symptoms. The suspected case may or may not have haemorrhagic manifestations,’’ indicated Kioko.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and the ‘yellow’ in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 50 percent of severely affected persons without any treatment can succumb from yellow fever.

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