Yellow fever outbreaks in Africa need action, mass vaccination: WHO

yellow-feaver-vactination

In this Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 file photo, a health worker injects a young boy with yellow fever vaccine in Seguela in northern Ivory Coast. On Thursday, May 19, 2016 the UN health agency convened an expert committee to consider whether the epidemic of yellow fever, an acute viral hemorrhagic fever, qualifies as an international public health emergency. (AP Photo/Olivier Asselin)

Outbreaks of deadly yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo do not constitute a global health emergency but require stepped-up control measures and mass vaccination, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.

The disease, which has a high fatality rate, has already spread to Kenya and China and there is an unrelated outbreak in Uganda, generating fears of the mosquito-borne disease jumping to sprawling cities in Asia and Africa.

“This can be a devastating disease with rapid spread particularly in urban areas,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO executive director of outbreaks and health emergencies, said after its emergency committee on yellow fever held a first meeting.

“The big push really is around surveillance and laboratory diagnostics capacity so that if people start turning yellow and dying, you get diagnostics rapidly and vaccination,” Aylward told Reuters.

The more than 2,400 suspect cases and 300 deaths in just four months in Angola “reinforced the potentially explosive nature of this disease and the risk internationally”, he said.

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