The Federal Government has said an outbreak of yellow fever is responsible for the recent “strange deaths” in some states, including Delta and Enugu.
Health Minister Dr. Osagie Ehanire made the clarification yesterday while addressing State House Correspondents after this week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The minister said the government was investigating the disease outbreak by collecting samples and conducting research to ensure accuracy about what happened.
“Yes, there was an outbreak that started in Delta and was found in Enugu and then two other states, making it a total of four states. The analysis we have done so far shows it is yellow fever.
“So, the response has been going on from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); vaccination is going on in all these areas.
“Few days ago, there was also a report from a member of the National Assembly. He said in his constituency, there were unexplained illnesses and deaths and that alarm also immediately triggered a response. The NCDC has been directed to carry out investigation.
“As we speak, they have to collect samples, do tests and do some laboratory investigations before we are sure of what exactly it is and what the cause is. So, the response is going on automatically and we shall get result very soon,” he said.
Enugu State has been battling to contain the outbreak of the disease in two communities – Ette Uno and Umuopu – in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area.
But the disease has now spread to Nsukka, Isi-Uzo.
Delta State recently reported that 22 deaths were recorded in Ika North East Local Government Area of the state due to the outbreak of the disease.
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.
Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
A small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within 7 to 10 days.
The virus is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.
Large epidemics of yellow fever occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and where most people have little or no immunity, due to lack of vaccination. In these conditions, infected mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti species transmit the virus from person to person.
Yellow fever is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to grant sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease. A booster dose of the vaccine is not needed. The vaccine provides effective immunity within 10 days for 80-100% of people vaccinated, and within 30 days for more than 99% of people vaccinated.
Good supportive treatment in hospitals improves survival rates. There is currently no specific anti-viral drug for yellow fever.
The Eliminate Yellow fever Epidemics (EYE) Strategy launched in 2017 is an unprecedented initiative. With more than 50 partners involved, the EYE partnership supports 40 at-risk countries in Africa and the Americas to prevent, detect, and respond to yellow fever suspected cases and outbreaks.
The partnership aims at protecting at-risk populations, preventing international spread, and containing outbreaks rapidly. By 2026, it is expected that more than 1 billion people will be protected against the disease.
(Additional information from WHO)