Author ANN Staff Writer
More than 50 people have died and as many as 250 people have been infected as a result of a recent yellow fever outbreak in Angola. The recent outbreak of the serious, mosquito-borne illness is the first one reported in more than 30 years.
Yellow fever is an easily preventable illness since a vaccine for the disease has been available since 1938 and is on the World Health Organization's (WHO) list of Essential Medicines.
Still, Angola's national director of public health, Adelaide de Carvalho, admits that only 450,000 people have been vaccinated so far in the Luanda area. Carvalho says the goal is to eventually vaccinate nearly 1.6 million but less than a third of that goal has been achieved.
The current yellow fever outbreak is mostly confined to the eastern suburbs of Luanda, home to 29 of the 51 people who have died and where a total of 92 cases have been reported over the last six weeks.
Angola lies in Africa’s yellow fever belt where vaccination against the disease is recommended. Health officials blame poor sanitation for providing fertile breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that spread yellow fever. Still, Angola's health system has been ineffective when it comes to controlling the breeding grounds or vaccinating the population against the potentially deadly disease.
The later stages of yellow fever infection can feature extremely high fevers, organ failure, and death.