Yellow Fever – Nigeria

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Since September 2020, at least 112 people from Ogbadibo and Okpokwu local government areas of Benue state in Nigeria have died from yellow fever.

Emergency interventions have been put into place, including immunization, treatment of already infected persons, supply of mosquito nets, and depopulation of mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the disease.

Refusal of some of the Ogbadibo population, due to religious objections, have increased the number of affected people.

Residents of the affected areas are asked to remove all stagnant water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and to participate in the immunization.

Yellow fever is a viral disease, of typically short duration, caused by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Only humans and primates can catch the disease. In most cases infection will be accompanied by fever, chills and loss of appetite. Muscle pains and headaches are also typical symptoms that improve within 5 days.

In about 15% of people, within a day of improving the fever comes back, abdominal pain occurs, and liver damage begins causing yellow skin. Death occurs in up to half of those who get severe disease.

A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever exists, and some countries require vaccinations for travelers.

Photo: Electron micro-graph of Yellow Fever Virus.

The disease originated in Africa and spread to South America in the 17th century with the Spanish and Portuguese importation of enslaved Africans from sub-Saharan Africa. Since the 17th century, several major outbreaks of the disease have occurred in the Americas, Africa, and Europe. In the 18th and 19th centuries, yellow fever was considered one of the most dangerous infectious diseases.

In 1927, yellow fever virus was the first human virus to be isolated.

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