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WHO backs govt to tackle yellow- fever outbreaks in Delta, Enugu

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By Ibeneme Ebelechukwu, Abuja

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed its readiness to support the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delta and Enugu states towards helping them to investigate and respond quickly to recent reported deaths from unknown cause in some communities now identified to be due to an outbreak of Yellow Fever.

WHO promise came as a result of the notification made to NCDC in early November by health ministries of both states, who notified the NCDC on cases presenting with symptoms indicating viral hemorrhagic fever.

The world health body said in a statement that it was working in conjunction with other health institutions in support of states public health teams and Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) that have been organised and trained in each of the affected states.

Outbreak investigation is ongoing in each state through the RRTs under the coordination of respective state ministries of health. Hospitals have been identified in each state and capacitated to manage patients who develop symptoms and complications.

The statement also noted as at 06 November 2020, three samples from Delta and one from Enugu tested positive for Yellow fever at Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital Laboratory and NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, Abuja. Additional blood samples have since similarly tested positive, hence, an outbreak of Yellow Fever was confirmed.

According to experts, yellow fever is caused by a virus spread through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos. “This type of mosquito bites during the day. Some of those infected develop serious symptoms, including high fever, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains, headache and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Some die from the complications of internal bleeding and organ failure”, a medical expert who spoke under anonymity said.

“Infection with Yellow Fever virus is easily prevented by a vaccine that provides immunity for life. Large epidemics of yellow fever occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and low vaccination coverage. In Delta State, for example, all cases have no history of Yellow fever vaccination, including a one-year-old baby”, she adds.

Investigations further revealed that adults who bring their children for immunization have always refused to receive yellow fever vaccination when offered by health workers.

Initiating a response to the outbreak, Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Dr Ikechukwu Emmanuel Obi during the EOC meeting after definitive diagnosis of the disease said that the disease had been reported from Etteh-Uno and Umuopu communities in Igbo-Eze north LGA. He indicated that the state RRT had done an outbreak investigation and identified those so far affected. He promised to facilitate a reactive Yellow fever mass vaccination intervention for the affected and neighboring LGAs.

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