December 19, 2018

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Yellow Fever in Nigeria, 4 things you need to know

Lola writes for African Health Magazine:

As a light skinned kid, a most common nickname I had was “Yellow Fever”. At the time, it didn’t really bother me because the “Yellow” part was what people in Nigeria equated light skin with. However, when I did learn about this disease, I realized it wasn’t fit for a nickname, but better as a constant topic of discussion. Here’s a little introduction before diving into the details:

Yellow fever is a deadly flu spread by the Aegys Aegypti/female mosquito. A high fever is a major symptom, hence the name yellow fever. It is most prominent in some parts of Africa and South America. Yellow fever is worse than the Zika virus. While the yellow fever vaccine can be used to prevent the disease, it isn’t curable.

A yellow fever outbreak is currently active in Nigeria with 7 States recording confirmed cases (Kwara, Kogi, Kano, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Niger) in 12 Local Government Areas (LGAs). However, a total of 16 states have reported suspected cases (Abia, Borno, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi, Plateau, Zamfara, Enugu, Oyo, Anambra, Edo, Lagos, Kano, Nasarawa, Katsina and Niger States) in 62 (LGAs).

Here’s what you need to know:

Develops quickly

Symptoms start showing within three to six days after exposure. It develops quickly, with aches around the head, muscles and joints, chills and fever. It’s a disease of phases which include the acute phase (which some people recover from and some don’t), the toxic phase (comeback symptoms with worse symptoms than the ones from the acute phase). At the toxic phase, the symptoms graduate to seizures, delirium, bleeding from vomiting and the nose and eyes.

Caused by the Flavivirus 

Once you’re bitten by an infected mosquito, this virus is transmitted as these mosquitoes become infected themselves when they bite an infected human or monkey. The disease cannot be spread from one person to another. Increased contact between humans and infected mosquitoes, particularly in areas where people haven’t been vaccinated for yellow fever, can create small-scale epidemics.

As at 2nd January, 2018, a total of 358 suspected yellow fever cases have been line-listed. Of the 358 suspected cases, 230 (64.2%) have had blood samples collected and sent to the laboratory for confirmation. Of the 230 samples collected, 63 (27.4%) tested positive for yellow fever and 1 (0.4%) inconclusive result in five Nigerian laboratories.

Has no cure

Symptoms can only be managed or prevented through the yellow fever vaccine. Treatment involves assisting your immune system in fighting the infection off by maintaining a healthy blood pressure, oxygen, passing enough fluids through your veins, blood transfusions and treatments for possible subsequent infections.

As at 2nd January 2018, 33 samples (51.6%) samples out of the 64 (positive and inconclusive) samples in Nigeria were confirmed positive by the WHO Reference Laboratory, Dakar. 24 were negative and 7 results are being awaited. Total number of deaths in all cases (among suspected, probable and confirmed cases) is 45, and 9 among confirmed cases – Case fatality rate (CFR) for all cases (including suspected, probable and confirmed) is 12.6%, and 27.3% for confirmed cases.

Death Rate

50% to 60% of these patients with severe symptoms die.

Have you ever had an encounter with yellow fever or know someone who did? What did you observe? Let’s talk in the comments!

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