Yellow fever spread in seven provinces from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the UN takes measures to make sure that as many people as possible are immunized. Meanwhile, the world faces a shortage of yellow fever vaccine.
The new outbreak started in Angola and now reached the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The global emergency stocks of yellow fever vaccine are just of 6 million, which are already used for the present spread of the disease. As a consequence, the World Health Organization recommended the use of partial doses.
“Studies done in adults show that fractional dosing using one-fifth of the regular dose provides effective immunity against yellow fever for at least 12 months and possibly much longer,” said Tarik Jašarević, spokesperson for the World Health Organization.
The change in the quantity of the vaccine dose started in June 2016, when mass vaccinations were programmed in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Moreover, people that had already received a full dose are considered to be completely immunized, and the quantity is enough to ensure protection for the rest of their lives. The lifetime validity of the immunization certificate applies retrospectively.
The yellow fever vaccine takes a lot of time to prepare. All around the world, there are only five outlets that produce the substance.
There are 74 confirmed yellow fever cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which ended up with 16 people dying because of the disease. The mortality percentage is 20%. However, the Angola suspected causes are much higher.
Most dangerous are the cities with many inhabitants, such as Kinshasa. The city is estimated to be the home of more than 10 million people.
The vaccination campaign wants to reach as many as 420,000 individuals from Kinshasa in 10 days. The operation will involve a fifth of the standard dose, as the local government decided to do.
The fractional doses will protect people for one year, and then a re-vaccination will be needed.
Yellow fever has no cure. Therefore, prevention is better than treating the condition.
The disease has symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, chills, nausea, muscle pains and headaches. While the symptoms improve in five days, the fever comes back. The damage in the liver can cause the skin to become yellow; bleeding appears, and the body can go into organ failure in the second phase.
Often, the condition can be confused with malaria because of the similar symptoms in the early stages of the disease.
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