The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says a total of 20 persons have lost their lives in the current outbreak of yellow fever in Ebonyi state.
In a statement on Saturday, Chikwe Ihekweazu, director-general of NCDC, said the agency confirmed the outbreak following an investigation of deaths recorded due to fever.
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Its symptoms include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
As of Friday, 16 persons were reported to have been killed in the latest outbreak of the disease in the state.
Ihekweazu said the rapid response team had been deployed to control the outbreak and ensure proper vaccination to concerned persons.
He said the response team is coordinated by medical personnel of Ebonyi state epidemiology team, with support from the NCDC, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Following a report of cases and deaths from fever of unknown origin in Izzi Local Government Area (LGA) in Ebonyi state, the State public health team commenced investigation. As at the 31st of July 2019, three cases had tested positive for Yellow fever at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, which triggered an immediate response,” the statement read.
“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that between May 1 and August 7, 2019, there had been cases that fit into the case definition for Yellow fever and 20 deaths in Izzi LGA, Ebonyi State, indicating that the outbreak may have been going on for a few months undetected by local health authorities. It was too late to collect samples for confirmation from these cases.
“Detailed analysis and plans are in advanced stages to apply to the international vaccine stockpile to enable a reactive vaccination campaign in Ebonyi state, in response to the cluster of cases.”
According to the statement, yellow fever vaccine is “available for free in primary health care centres in Nigeria as part of the routine immunisation schedule.”
Ihekweazu advised Nigerians to ensure that every child is vaccinated against the disease.
He also urged Nigerians to ensure a clean environment in order to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes.