UN health agency appeals for yellow fever vaccine for Côte d'Ivoire

UN health agency appeals for yellow fever vaccine for Côte d'Ivoire

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The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today launched an urgent appeal for $2.9 million to tackle a yellow fever epidemic in Côte d'Ivoire.

The funds will cover the cost of a vaccination campaign in response to a potentially disastrous outbreak of yellow fever in Côte d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan. The agency is also preparing to deliver vaccines to the city from an international stockpile.

According to WHO, cases of yellow fever have been confirmed in five of the ten communes in Abidjan; suspected cases have also been reported elsewhere. In all, 20 cases have been notified, including four deaths. Six of the cases have been confirmed, while several others are under investigation.

However, WHO warns, surveillance data is by no means comprehensive and all indications are that the real situation could be considerably more serious. The disease, known as Urban Yellow Fever, is spread by a type of mosquito that lives in or close to people's homes and, although very rare, can spread extremely rapidly among a dense urban population, causing many thousands of deaths.

A WHO Rapid Assessment Team is in Abidjan, working with the Ministry of Public Health, to formulate a response to the outbreak. Plans are also under way for a massive immunization campaign in Abidjan, requiring some three million doses of vaccine. The agency is urgently locating stocks of yellow fever vaccine that can be moved quickly to the city.