Yellow fever outbreak in Darfur kills 67

A yellow fever outbreak in the Darfur region of Sudan has infected 194 people and killed 67 with the number of cases more than doubling since the start of the epidemic in October.

The World Health Organization reported that the outbreak is taking place in 17 localities in the north, west, south and central parts of Darfur. The number of cases has risen dramatically from the 84 initial cases reported when the outbreak began.

As of November 5, surveillance in the region shows that 83.3 percent of the cases are from central Darfur, 7.2 percent are from south Darfur, 7.2 percent are from west Darfur and 2.3 percent are from the northern part of the region.

The WHO is monitoring the outbreak throughout the region, training more than 225 health workers in the region on case management, infection prevention, control and disease surveillance, and working with the Sudanese Ministry of Health to send technical teams to stop the outbreak.

The organization recommends that disease surveillance be strengthened in eastern Darfur, a continuation of the laboratory testing of patients from newly affected locations, and finalizing a vaccination plan with available resources and partners to implement it.

In February, the U.N. backed a mass vaccination plan in northern Cameroon in an effort to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people and a campaign in Ghana to vaccinate more than 235,000 people.

Yellow fever infects an estimated 200,000 people annually. The disease is caused by a mosquito-borne virus and it kills as many as 30,000 people each year.

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever and vaccination is the most important preventive measure.