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Yellow Fever: With 47 death in 2019, NCDC seeks improved vaccination, surveillance

THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has urged the government to strengthen yellow fever surveillance and vaccination to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the country.

NCDC gave the recommendation in a report published on the International Journal of Infectious Diseases titled The response to re-emergence of Yellow Fever in Nigeria, 2017. The link to the report was shared on its Twitter handle on Monday.

The report that described the emergence of yellow in fever in 2017, after 21 years the last case was recorded, studied how the disease was handled in Kwara State, the place it was confirmed.

Highlighting actions taken in response to the public health matter, NCDC said yellow fever surveillance was intensified across all the 36 states in Nigeria. It added there were social mobilisation campaigns carried out in the affected local government areas (LGAs) of Kwara.

The report stated that in the area affected, all stages of yellow fever -vector, Aedes mosquito- were identified with low coverage of vaccination. It put the coverage of the vaccination at 46 per cent in the LGAs, with 25 per cent of people producing their vaccination cards.

Yellow fever is caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mosquitoes. Increased contact between people and infected mosquitoes leads to increased transmission.

Once contracted, the yellow fever virus incubates in the body between three and six days. When this occurs, people show symptoms of fever, muscle pain with prominent backache, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea.

If left untreated, the disease shows a more toxic symptom where several body systems are affected, usually the liver and kidneys and bleeding could occur from the mouth, nose eyes or stomach.

Half of the patients who enter the toxic phase die within seven to 10 days, according to the World Health Organisation.

But the disease could be prevented through the intake of vaccination and mosquito control.

The yellow fever vaccine is safe and affordable, and a single dose provides life-long immunity against the disease, stated the WHO.

However, since September 15, 2017, when the NCDC confirmed the case of yellow fever in Kwara state to WHO, Nigeria has been responding to successive yellow fever outbreaks.

The casualties increased in 2019. In that year, 47 Nigerians lost their lives to yellow fever against two people that died in 2018.

There were 2,739 suspected cases of the disease in 2018, but in 2019, 3,486 people were suspected to have the disease.

To curb an outbreak of the disease in 2020, the NCDC recommended training of health workers to ensure “high index of suspicion for yellow fever for early detection and reporting of cases”.

It added that workers need to learn how to observe universal care precautions while treating patients. The centre also encouraged the acceptance of yellow fever patients in health facilities.

As part of the recommendation in combating yellow fever in 2020, NCDC said it is important for government health institutions to strengthen yellow fever surveillance and improve vaccination that includes routine immunisation, preventive mass campaigns and yellow fever vaccination to travellers.

“It is recommended that states carry out sensitisation and social mobilisation to increase awareness on the prevention, signs and symptoms as well as treatment options for yellow fever,” NCDC report stated.

It added that the yellow fever risk communication activities should be sustained to prevent large urban outbreaks of yellow fever in Nigeria.

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