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Yellow Fever Strikes Angola

APR 07, 2016 | SARAH ANWAR
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that 16 of the 18 provinces in Angola have reported Yellow Fever infection. As of late March, there have been a total of 1,132 suspected and confirmed yellow fever cases in the country, with 168 deaths, the majority of which have been reported in Luanda.

Since early February, Angola’s Ministry of Health and WHO have been collaborating in an effort to control the number of infections by implementing an emergency vaccine campaign in Luanda. Travel to Angola is also being regulated: anyone older than 9 months of age is required to have the proper paperwork to prove they have received a yellow fever vaccination prior to arrival in Angola, regardless of their country of origin.

About the Yellow Fever Vaccine

Most individuals only need one dose of the yellow fever vaccine, but some individuals can develop a fatal allergic reaction, thus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that individuals should be tested prior to vaccine administration. Vaccines are not recommended for those receiving immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory therapies or transplants. Furthermore, those with primary immunodeficiencies, or malignant neoplasms, are advised not to receive vaccine. If an individual is pregnant or breastfeeding, she should contact her healthcare provider before receiving any vaccines.

How is Yellow Fever Transmitted?

Yellow fever is a flavivirus and can be found in the tropical and subtropical regions of South America and Africa. The virus can be transmitted through the bite of an Aedes or Haemagogus mosquito which was infected by either a human or non-human carrier of the disease. There are three transmission cycles of yellow fever:
  • The Jungle, or Sylvatic cycle: in which the virus is transferred between infected creatures (whether from human to human, animal to animal, human to animal, or animal to human) by a mosquito species found in the forest canopy. Humans who live or work in a jungle are at risk of contracting yellow fever through this transmission cycle.
  • The Savannah cycle: in which the virus is transmitted between two humans or an animal and a human, through the bite of an infected mosquito. This transmission cycle is specific to African jungle areas.
  • The Urban cycle: in which the virus is transmitted between humans by urban Aedes aegypti mosquitos. Since the yellow fever virus originates in tropic or subtropical regions, the urban cycle involves the transmission of the virus from individual who originally acquired infection in a jungle or savannah, to an urban mosquito.

What are the Symptoms of Yellow Fever?

Although the majority of individuals who contract yellow fever do not show symptoms, some develop:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe headache
  • Back pain
  • General body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
Around 15% of infected individuals develop severe forms of the disease, in which they exhibit high fever, jaundice, bleeding, shock, or multiple organ failure. Those who develop these symptoms should be put under close observation, preferably in a hospital setting. Twenty to 50% of patients with severe yellow fever die; however, those who survive yellow fever develop an immunity to it.

There is currently no treatment specific to yellow fever, and so infected individuals are advised to rest, drink lots of fluids, and use pain relievers to alleviate mild symptoms; however, certain anti-inflammatory medications should be avoided, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen.

Big advances in treatment can