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WHO calls for enhanced vigilance amidst reports of declining yellow fever cases

As the number of yellow fever cases decline in Angola and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization calls on Governments and partners to capitalize on the momentum and intensify response measures.

“We are at a critical phase of the response. We have made good progress but we need to do more to prepare for the rainy season expected in September. We must not let our guard down as this is the time to intensify efforts and arrest further transmission, especially at the border areas where there is significant trade and movement of people”, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.

The yellow fever outbreak peaked in late February/early March in Angola and, since then, has slowed down considerably. As of 29 July 2016, Angola has reported a total of 3818 suspected cases of which 879 were laboratory confirmed. There have been 369 deaths reported among all the suspect cases, of which 119 were among the confirmed cases. There has been no confirmed case reported since 23 June 2016. However, the rainy season usually leads to an increase in the number of mosquitoes that could result in new cases.

Mass vaccination is the key focus of WHO’s response strategy to control the yellow fever outbreak and prevent international spread. To date, WHO has sent more than 19 million doses of the yellow fever vaccine to Angola, DRC and Uganda, through the International Coordinating Group global stockpile. This is three times the volume normally planned for outbreak use in a 12 month period.

The IGG is a global partnership managed by UNICEF, WHO, MSF and IFRC to coordinate the provision of emergency vaccine supplies to countries during major outbreaks.

So far, Angola has received 15 million doses, DRC 3.2 million doses, and Uganda 800 000 doses of the yellow fever vaccines.  WHO is working with Governments and partners to implement the next round of vaccination campaign in Angola and DRC scheduled by mid-to late-August.

Though cases have declined, WHO is ramping up its support for the yellow fever outbreak in Angola and DRC and has been working closely with Governments and partners on the outbreak response, including supporting vaccination campaigns, strengthening disease surveillance and providing guidance to improve diagnosis and patient care.

Since the start of the outbreak in December 2015, WHO in collaboration with partners has deployed over 155 experts in epidemiology, disease surveillance, vaccination, vector control, diagnosis, clinical care, social mobilization and risk communications and is sending more teams to support the governments in Angola and the DRC.

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