In light of the yellow fever outbreak in Angola,it has emerged that Zimbabwe could be at risk also.Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has urged Zimbabweans to be on high alert for yellow fever, following an outbreak in Angola, which has so far recorded 250 deaths.
Dr Parirenyatwa said Government will also strengthen surveillance systems at all ports of entry, so that all people travelling from Angola are screened.
“Yellow fever is just next door. We need to be firm and ensure that we screen all those travelling from Angola. Angola is experiencing the worst yellow fever outbreak in decades and so, we need to be cautious,” he said.
He urged all those travelling to Angola to get vaccinated against yellow fever, and those travelling from the country to report to the nearest clinic if they observe any signs of the fever.
“We also urge all those who intend to travel to Angola to get vaccinated at least 10 days before. Please be on the lookout because yellow fever is next door,” Dr Parirenyatwa said recently.
According to the World Health Organisation, since the yellow fever outbreak began in December 2015, there were 1 908 suspected cases reported, 617 of which were confirmed, resulting in 250 deaths.
The majority of the cases are being reported in the capital Luanda and two other provinces, Huambo and Huila.
To contain the outbreak outside Luanda, over two million people are set to be vaccinated in densely populated urban districts over the coming weeks with a million reported to have been vaccinated in two provinces.
Yellow fever has reportedly been exported to China, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo by people travelling from Angola.
WHO reports that Uganda, DRC and Angola have active yellow fever outbreaks with the trend sparking concerns that the virus may spread further because of the large communities living in Angola who regularly travel to other countries.
Countries like Kenya have already tightened their surveillance systems, to avoid an outbreak.
It is worth noting that there is no cure for yellow fever,once a person is infected the only thing they can do is to wait for the body to kill the virus on its own.Current treatment therefore is focused on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the yellow fever virus .
Vaccination which provides protection for 10 years or more is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever.
According to WHO, the yellow fever virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, the most common being the Aedes species — the same mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.
Yellow fever develops quickly, with symptoms occurring three to six days after exposure. The initial symptoms of the infection are similar to those of the influenza virus. They include:
- muscle aches
- joint aches
- vomiting and fatigue
Mosquitoes become infected with the virus when they bite an infected human or monkey. The disease cannot be spread through person-to-person contact.
At least half of the severely affected patients who do not receive treatment die within 10 to 14 days.