Yellow fever takes hold

Yellow fever – for which there is no cure, and which is frequently fatal – appears to be taking hold in the African state of Angola.

The outbreak began in the capital of Luanda but has now spread to at least 14 of the 18 provinces in the country.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the outbreak “is not a public health emergency of international concern”.

More than 2,400 people in Angola have been infected since December 2015, 300 of whom have died.

Yellow fever, a viral hemorrhagic illness, is a mosquito-borne disease. Symptoms usually begin three to six days after a bite from an infected mosquito and last about three or four days. They include fever, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

15% of infected individuals experience a second phase of illness within 24 hours of when they first become sick. This later stage can include jaundice, bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth, stomach and, eventually, bloody vomit and faeces. 50% of patients who experience this second phase of illness die within 10 to 14 days.

There is a vaccine which provides protection against the virus. Health officials launched a mass vaccination program in February to try to contain this outbreak. But the emergency stockpile – around 6 million doses – of the vaccine is now exhausted. According to the WHO, there are 5 million doses of the vaccine globally, and the WHO expects to have 7 million by the end of the month.


Picture source: Flickr