Sharp increase in DRC yellow fever cases

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The number of suspected yellow fever cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has jumped 38% in the last three weeks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, as health officials prepare to launch a vaccination campaign.

Reuters Health reports that the DRC’s government last month declared a yellow fever epidemic in the capital Kinshasa and two provinces that border Angola, where the worst outbreak of the disease in decades has killed about 350 people.

As of 11 July the DRC had recorded 1,798 suspected cases since the start of the outbreak in January, WHO said in a weekly report, up from 1,307 on 24 June – 75 are believed to have died from the disease in DRC, it said.

Officials have confirmed 68 cases. But they have not been able to confirm or rule out any additional cases for the last three weeks due to a technical problem shipping a chemical used in the tests, said WHO’s resident representative in Congo, Yokouide Allarangar. However, the issue has now been resolved and new test results will be available in the coming days, Allarangar added.

Health authorities plan to administer 1m doses of yellow fever vaccine during a 10-day campaign beginning in the Kinshasa district of Kisenso and the neighbouring Kwango province.

Due to a global shortage of vaccines, plans to inoculate some 10m more people in Kinshasa and along the Angolan border have been put on hold until August, when newly-manufactured doses from Brazil are expected to begin arriving.

Full Reuters Health report

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