The United Nations is backing a mass vaccination campaign under way in northern Cameroon, where a new outbreak of yellow fever has killed at least seven people.
The vaccination campaign, which began late last month in eight districts, aims to eventually protect more than 1.2 million people considered at high risk of contracting yellow fever, which has no cure and is spread by mosquitoes.
The UN World Health Organization (WHO) reported today that the vaccinations are aimed at areas not covered in a previous campaign in 2009 because they have no history of yellow fever outbreaks or circulation of the yellow fever virus.
Since October last year at least 23 cases have been recorded in Cameroon, with tests confirming the illness was yellow fever rather than dengue fever or West Nile virus.
WHO said it is working with Government health officials in Cameroon to assess the extent of the outbreak and confirm the cases.
The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the International Coordinating Group on Yellow Fever Provision (YF-ICG) – which includes WHO and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – and the public-private partnership known as the GAVI Alliance are funding the vaccination campaign..
Meanwhile, in Ghana, two people have died since October and another case has been confirmed in an outbreak of yellow fever in the country’s upper eastern and mid-western regions.
YF-ICG, working with the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), is planning a vaccination campaign for more than 235,000 people starting on Monday. Pregnant women and children aged below one year are the key targets of that campaign.
An estimated 200,000 cases of yellow fever are recorded worldwide each year, with as many as 30,000 deaths reported. Patients experience jaundice, as well as other symptoms such as fever and vomiting.
The vaccine against yellow fever is considered to provide effective immunity within a week for about 95 per cent of people.