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Congo Yellow Fever: Outbreak Ends in Congo

Update Date: Feb 16, 2017 07:40 AM EST
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At least 30 Burundian refugees killed in clashes in Congo

The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared an end to the yellow fever outbreak in Congo and Angola. Yellow fever had killed about 400 people for the past years. WHO said it was one of the largest and most challenging outbreaks that they had in recent years.

The first outbreak was detected in Luanda, Angola in December 2015. It caused 965 confirmed cases and thousands more of suspected cases in both Angola and its neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. No confirmed cases have been reported in the past six months from both countries.

According to New York Times, in December, Angola declared an end to the outbreak. Two months after, Congo had made its announcement just this Tuesday. The global health agency said more than 30 million people were vaccinated during emergency campaigns to help control the outbreak in Congo and Angola.

The UN-backed campaign had more than 41,000 volunteers and 56 charities carrying out mass immunization programs. Drug shortages had forced doctors to switch to administering only one-fifth of the normal dose. WHO said that this tactic gives at least temporary protection.

The risk of yellow fever outbreak has risen globablly in recent years because of urbanization and an increase of the population. The El Nino weather phenomenon multiplied mosquito number in 2016. Yellow fever is transmitted by the same mosquitoes that spread Zika and dengue viruses according to Reuters.

WHO regional emergency director, Ibrahima Socé Fall said "Yellow fever outbreaks like the one in Angola and the DRC could become more frequent in many parts of the world unless coordinated measures are taken to protect people most at risk." Socé said that implementation of strong preventive approach or procedure is needed to vaccinate the population at risk across the region.

There is no known cure for the virus, but it can be easily prevented with vaccines. Once infected, people fall ill with fever and muscle pain. Many recover several days after but there are cases where more toxic phase includes possible bleeding from eyes, ears and nose, jaundice and organ failure.

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