Democratic Republic of Congo reports outbreak of yellow fever

The World Health Organization said on Thursday that two incidences of yellow fever were reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involving 139 people with six confirmed cases.

The six confirmed cases occurred in Bondo and Buta health zones in the Orientale Province, and Kikondja health zone, Katanga Province.

At least 116 suspected cases have been reported in Bondo and Buta, and 23 suspected cases were reported in Katongue, Kimbuvu and Lukila.

A reactive mass vaccination campaign has been initiated by the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Vaccine Provision (YF-ICG) with 550,876 doses of yellow fever vaccine and operating costs to administer them approved.

The YF-ICG is represented by UNICEF, Médecin sans frontières, the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies and WHO. The vaccine stockpile is used for emergency response and is supported by the GAVI Alliance.

The campaign is planned to begin on May 1, and will be headed by the DRC Ministry of Health with support from the GAVI Alliance, Médecin sans frontières and others.

Yellow fever is passed to humans by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, muscle pain, backache, headache, shivers, loss of appetite and nausea.

Most patients improve after three or four days, but approximately 15 percent of patients enter a toxic phase, which includes symptoms of jaundice and abdominal pain with vomiting. Patients can bleed from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach.

Half of the patients who enter the toxic phase die within 10 to 14 days. Patients who recover do not experience significant organ damage.

WHO said it will continue to monitor the outbreak, as well as preventative and control measures and resource mobilization.