Friday 25 December 2020

Outbreak of Yellow Fever reported in Guinea.

The World Health Organisation has reported an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Guinea, with 52 suspected cases of the disease reported between 6 November and 15 December 2020, fourteen of which subsequently died. Fifty of the reported cases are from the Koundara Health District, one from the Dubreka Health District, and one from the Kouroussa Health District. Tests carried out at the Nongo Laboratory of Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in Conakry confirmed Yellow Fever in eight of the patients from Koundara, plus both the Debreka and Kouroussa patients. Further tests carried out at the Institut Pasteur de Dakar confirmed Yellow Fever in eight Koundara patients.

Geographic distribution of suspected and confirmed cases of yellow fever per 100,000 inhabitants by sub-prefecture, in the health district of Koundara, 30 November 2020. World Health Organisation.

Yellow Fever is a Mosquito-borne Flavivirus (the group of RNA Viruses that also includes the West Nile, Zika and Hepatitis C Viruses). The Virus causes a mild fever, accompanied loss of appatite, nausea and muscle pains, which passes within about 15 days. However, in about 15 % of cases a more severe infection attacks the liver and kidneys, which can lead to their failure, and therefore the death of the patient.  It originated in tropical Africa and but was carried to South America and the Caribbean during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Outbreaks of the disease have also been recorded in parts of tropical Asia and the Pacific in recent years, and many countries in tropical regions require visitors to carry a certificate proving they have been vaccinated against the Virus.

The Yellow Fever Virus. Erskine Palmer/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Wikipedia.

Guinea is considered to be a high-risk endemic country for Yellow Fever, and is carrying out a national program of vaccinations, as well as requiring all visitors to the country aged nine months or above to be vaccinated. However, it is currently estimated that only about 40% of the population has been vaccinated to date, with vaccination rates particularly low in the Koundara Health District where only about 16% of the population has been reached; all of confirmed Yellow Fever cases from Koundara were from patients that had not been vaccinated.

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