The death toll in Angola keeps rising following a recent outbreak of yellow fever – the nation’s first in three decades. The outbreak, which begun in the capital of Luanda has spread to about 18 provinces in the country. Over 1,100 persons have been diagnosed so far, with 225 confirmed dead. Government health systems have run out of ideas as the health crisis pushes the World Health Organisation (WHO) to speed up its response.
WHO has described the situation as “difficult to contain.” Its Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, landed in Luanda this week to assess the current outbreak.
“This is the most serious outbreak of yellow fever that Angola has faced in 30 years.WHO is taking urgent action to support the Government to control this outbreak with a widespread vaccination campaign,” Dr Chan stated.
But with the severe shortage of vaccines, concerns have been raised over the preferential treatment the World Health Organisation (WHO) may be giving to the current outbreak of the Zika Virus in the West. Fears remain that the organisation might have run short of the needed clinical logistics to help eradicate its spread.
The outbreak of the virus has caused a stir among neighboring countries as borders remain closed and security checks of Yellow Fever vaccination papers are heightened. The Angolan Health Ministry has also taken bold steps to engage international partners in the fight. In March, partners from WHO vaccinated 5.7 million residents of Luanda from the International Group emergency stockpile. But an additional 1.5 million doses are urgently needed to vaccinate the entire population.
The yellow fever virus is caused by infected mosquitoes with the most known species being the Aedes aegypti. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue with the advanced stage feared to cause high fever, jaundice and internal bleeding.
To date, there remains no treatment for yellow fever, but those who get infected with the virus receive supportive medical care, including fluids, pain management and monitoring.