Scaling up Measures to Combat Yellow Fever

One disease which has continued to record recurrence in Nigeria over the years is yellow fever.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease spread by a particular species of mosquito common in areas of Africa, Central and South America.

The mosquito, aedes aegypti species is believed to transmit the virus from person to person while the ‘yellow’ refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.

Some of the symptoms of yellow fever include jaundice, sudden fever, headache, muscle and body pains, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

Early this month, three people were reported to have died from an outbreak of yellow fever in Alkaleri and Tafawa Balewa Local Government areas of Bauchi State.

This prompted the state governor to embark on reactive vaccination for over five hundred thousand residents scattered across the twenty local government areas of the state,

Also, following the outbreak of the disease in eight ocal government areas of ebonyi state in may this year, twenty of the fifty five suspected cases have reportedly died.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control deployed a rapid response team to support Ebonyi State with contract tracing and case finding.

Available records show that from an outbreak in 2017 to December 2018, three thousand, nine hundred and two suspected cases were reported from all thirty six states and the FCT in Nigeria.

This is a wake-up call to states to increase surveillance in this regard.

Commendably, the Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics Strategy launched in 2017 with more than fifty partners has been working assiduously to reduce the impact of the disease in forty at risk countries in Africa and the Americas.

The partnership is committed to preventing international spread and containing outbreaks rapidly.

It is expected that by 2026 more than one billion people will be protected against the disease.

Also, the Federal Government in collaboration with World Health Organisation and Gavi recently launched the Yellow Fever Reactive Vaccination Campaign in three states of Ebonyi, Benue and Cross River to contain the outbreak in affected areas.

More still needed to be done to combat this disease.

It is imperative to invest more in vaccines which have been proven to be very effective.

A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and life-long protection against the disease.

This is important as there is no specific anti-viral drug for yellow fever currently.

Since diagnosis may be difficult at the early stage, it is recommended that people having symptoms related to the aforementioned report to the hospital for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment.

  The yellow fever vaccine is available for free in primary health care centres across the country as part of the routine immunization schedule, mothers should avail themselves of this opportunity for their babies.

People should maintain proper hygiene at all times, clear stagnant waters from their environment wear protective clothing and use repellent against these mosquitoes, which are more active during the day time.

There should be adequate mapping by epidemiologists to identify high risk areas and constantly monitor them to forestall outbreak.

States should embark on regular aerial spraying of aedes mosquitoes identified as the vector that transmits yellow fever disease.

There should also be increased surveillance at the country’s borders to ensure that people with yellow fever and other infectious diseases are prevented from entering the country.

Most importantly, strong commitment at all level of governance is necessary, if the country wants to be free from yellow fever.

Anthonia Akanji

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