BAUCHI, Nigeria — The country of Nigeria is currently experiencing an outbreak of Yellow Fever throughout all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Yellow fever is a viral infection that is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitos. Mild cases cause fever, headache, nausea and vomiting while the more serious cases can end fatally due to liver, heart and kidney failure. Due to the dangerousness of this infection, Nigeria has been trying to combat and prevent this disease since September 2017. Through its many Yellow Fever vaccination campaigns, Nigeria is hoping to prevent and protect its 201 million people from suffering from this disease. These are 6 facts about the Yellow Fever Outbreak in Nigeria.
6 Facts about the Yellow Fever Outbreak in Nigeria
- The World Health Organization has recorded reports of more than 2,000 suspected yellow fever cases throughout the 506 Local Government Areas (LGA) in just six months. The cases have varied from patients having symptoms of fever and jaundice to 26 cases ending in deaths within the Ebonyi State. Newborns, toddlers and children are the main people being infected with Yellow Fever in Ebonyi State. Although 56 percent of children in this state have been vaccinated for Yellow Fever, the state still shows an overall low population immunity with many adults still being susceptible to Yellow Fever.
- The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has reported 243 suspected cases of Yellow Fever. The Centre has confirmed at least 27 cases. From August 2019 to September 2019, the Yellow Fever in Bauchi affected four other neighboring states, which shows the rapid speed in which this disease is spreading in Nigeria. Out of those 243 cases, 34 resulted in death.
- Since Yellow Fever is spread through bites of infected mosquitos, WHO has looked into which specific mosquitos are carrying the disease. They have found that the species of Aedes and Haemogogus are the main carriers of Yellow Fever. Since they breed near houses or in the jungle, coming into contact with them in Nigeria is very easy. The more they come into contact with people, the more the transmission cycle strengthens as it spreads from person to person.
- The Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency has been taking steps in preventing Yellow Fever from infecting more people. The first cases reported in the state of Bauchi were linked to a college group that visited the Yankari Game Reserve in August of 2019. Twelve students were hospitalized with confirmed cases of Yellow Fever after their visit. The agency coordinated with local government to get approval for an aircraft to spray the reserve in hopes of killing the mosquitos carrying the disease. Along with this, anyone who entered the Yankari Game Reserve would be vaccinated to prevent any further hospitalizations.
- Along with these efforts, preventive vaccination campaigns have become a key containment strategy for the country. The federal government, WHO, Gavi and the Vaccine Alliance launched a 10-day campaign in September 2019 in three states. Their target was to reach 1.6 million people to contain the outbreak. The International Coordinate Group on Vaccine Provisions supplied this campaign with 1,802,044 vaccine doses. Many campaigns such as this one have been happening in locations nearby of the affected areas to further contain the spread of Yellow Fever.
- Nigeria has adopted the World Health Organization’s Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics (EYE) strategy. This plan will focus on improving the surveillance of this disease while also making sure that the country is equipped to handle outbreaks. One of WHO’s goals is supplying an emergency stockpile of vaccines not only in Nigeria but other countries who are vulnerable to being affected by Yellow Fever. Along with this stockpile, WHO is prioritizing improvements in the healthcare systems and testing laboratories to better prevent and respond to Yellow Fever.
Although this outbreak of Yellow Fever in Nigeria is affecting many people, the fast actions and collaborations between organizations and the government have provided the people of Nigeria with vaccinations. Mass vaccination campaigns have been the strongest tools in containing the spread of this disease. A total of 39.9 million people are expected to be vaccinated this year. With the continued strong involvement from the government and organizations, Nigeria could see the end of the Yellow Fever Outbreaks.
– Jannette Aguirre