Congo declares end to worst yellow fever epidemic in decades

Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:47pm GMT

By Katy Migiro

NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Democratic Republic of Congo's worst yellow fever outbreak in decades has ended two months after Angola declared its epidemic to be over, following a massive U.N.-backed vaccine campaign, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

No new cases have been reported in either country in six months, just over a year after the outbreak began in December 2015 in a slum in Angola's capital, Luanda, before spreading into neighbouring DRC.

In all, more than 400 people died, the WHO said.

The epidemic prompted a campaign to vaccinate 30 million people in the two countries with more than 41,000 volunteers and 56 charities carrying out mass the immunisation programme.

"We are able to declare the end of one of the largest and most challenging yellow fever outbreak in recent years," the WHO's Africa director Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement late on Tuesday.

The outbreak caused 965 confirmed cases across the two countries, with thousands more cases suspected, the WHO said.  

"This unprecedented response exhausted the global stockpile of yellow fever vaccines several times," the WHO said.

Drug shortages forced doctors to switch to administering one-fifth of the normal dose, a tactic that the WHO says gives at least temporary protection.   Continued...

A Congolese child is vaccinated during an emergency campaign of vaccination against yellow fever in Kisenso district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa, July 20, 2016. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe/File Photo
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