NAIROBI, Feb 15 (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
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.
The risk of such outbreaks globally has risen in recent
years due to urbanisation and the increasing mobility of the
population. It was particularly acute in 2016 because of the El
Nino weather phenomenon which multiplied mosquito numbers.
"Yellow fever outbreaks like the one in Angola and the DRC
could become more frequent in many parts of the world unless
coordinated measures are taken to protect people most at risk,"
WHO's regional emergency director, Ibrahima Socé Fall, said in
"We need to implement a strong preventive approach to
vaccinate the population at risk across the region."
Yellow fever is transmitted by the same mosquitoes that
spread the Zika and dengue viruses. The "yellow" in the name
refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.
(Reporting by Katy Migiro @katymigiro; Editing by Katie Nguyen.
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