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Friday, September 22, 2023

WHO declares yellow fever outbreak in South Sudan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared an outbreak of yellow fever in the southern part of South Sudan.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI / Getty Images

The UN health agency said, in a statement, that two cases were identified in Kajo-keji, a region bordering Uganda, where an outbreak of the viral haemorrhagic disease was detected early this year.

WHO warned that the risk of ongoing and further transmission of yellow fever is a concern in South Sudan due to spontaneous return of displaced persons from Uganda.

There are also concerns of gaps in surveillance and weaknesses in health services, ongoing travel restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 and the onset of the rainy season, which provides a favourable breeding ground for mosquitos that spread the virus.

“Epidemic spread of yellow fever is a risk in South Sudan as the estimated overall population immunity is negligible with nearly zero per cent immunity in Kajo Keji,’’ WHO said.

To respond to the outbreak, the Ministry of Health of South Sudan, with support from the WHO, planned to launch a reactive vaccination campaign in the affected region.

It also proposed the implementation of preventive mass vaccination campaigns by 2022.

South Sudan has experienced several yellow fever outbreaks in the past few years.

The country’s worst yellow fever outbreak occurred in May 2003, when a total of 178 cases with 27 deaths were reported in the Imatong region. 

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