by Roqeebah Olaoniye
The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) had a media roundtable discussion at the University of Lagos and they are predicting a fresh Yellow Fever pandemic, calling for a global yellow fever vaccine production.
According to the Academy, about 101,298,992 of Nigerian population are at risk of the disease and there are reports that 953 cases were confirmed in both Angola and Democratic Republic Congo with international spread to China and Kenya.
Scary stuff but thankfully, NAS has promised that Nigeria will launch an immediate response to strengthen surveillance, emergency campaign as well as immunization efforts to reach 1.3 million children in the country and a regional immunization campaign in Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Central African Republic.
Although vaccination is the only way to prevent the disease, we have prepared five things you can do to stay safe:
Keep your environs mosquito-free
Yellow fever is (an acute viral hemorrhagic) disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name only refers to the jaundice that affects some patients. So it’s essentially a fever and everything you do to avoid malaria should be intensified.
Report any case of high fever immediately
Yellow fever virus incubates in the body for 3 to 6 days but many people do not experience symptoms, but when these do occur, the most common are fever, muscle pain with prominent backache, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting. In most cases though, these symptoms disappear after 3 to 4 days and the high fever returns and this is where the fear is because half of the patients who enter this toxic phase die within 7 – 10 days.
If you haven’t and if you can please get vaccinated as soon as you can. The vaccine provides a 99% chance of effective immunity within 30 days of administration and you only have to be vaccinated once. The World Health Organisation’s fact sheet on yellow fever says a single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer “sustained immunity and life-long protection” against the disease and a booster dose of the vaccine is not needed.
Reduce travelling to the barest minimum
According to the President of the Academy, Professor Oyewole Tomori, Yellow fever started in Angola and some citizens transported it to Congo, and some citizens of China resident in Angola also transported it to China where the Chinese government was quick to vaccinate 16 million people.
Professor Tomori claims that “as long as citizens move from one country to the other, no country is free from exposure to yellow fever and Nigeria better be prepared, possibly Nigerians travelling out should be vaccinated and also people entering the country should be well examined for yellow fever”.
So postpone travel plans especially around Africa and to Central and South America as the virus is endemic in these tropical areas.
Funny but according to World Health Organisation, monkeys are the primary reservoir of yellow fever and when beaten by wild mosquitoes they can pass the virus on to other monkeys. Occasionally humans working or travelling in the forest are bitten by infected mosquitoes and develop yellow fever. So we should adjust this point to avoid the jungle.