Yellow Fever Epidemic in Angola
The World Health Organization is reporting a yellow fever outbreak in Angola that began in late 2015. Since the last reported yellow fever cases in Angola occurred more than 30 years ago, this epidemic, with more than 450 cases and 178 deaths, is alarming. The yellow fever virus is carried by mosquitoes, which infect humans with the virus as the female insects feed on blood.
In Africa, 34 other countries are subject to yellow fever, but case counts have been declining in recent years. Yellow fever vaccination is part of the routine infant immunization schedule in most countries at risk for the disease. However, yellow fever immunization coverage is nowhere near universal: in Angola, it has ranged from a low of 37% of eligible infants covered in 1997 to 49% in 2013 and 77% in 2014. Such large coverage gaps leave many at risk for infection.
The epicenter of the current outbreak is Luanda Province, and WHO and Angolan health authorities are concentrating a massive immunization drive there. Out of a population of 21.5 million people in Luanda Province, officials hope to vaccinate 6.7 million people. Though they are close to the goal, with more than 5 million people vaccinated, emergency stockpiles of the vaccine have run out, and more vaccine is needed.
Along with the immunization drive, authorities are increasing efforts to control mosquito populations and encourage people to avoid mosquito bites.
Several manufacturers, including groups in Brazil, France, and Senegal, make the live, attenuated vaccine. You can read about the development of this vaccine at our yellow fever timeline.
World Health Organization, African Region. Angola immunizes 6.7 million people against yellow fever. March 9, 2016.
World Health Organization. Angola grapples with worst yellow fever outbreak in 30 years. March 2016.
World Health Organization. WHO prequalified vaccines. March 23, 2016.
World Health Organization. WHO-UNICEF estimates of YFV coverage.