The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control with the World Health Organisation and Ebonyi State Government are responding to the outbreak of yellow fever in the state, which has resulted in no fewer than 16 deaths, an official says.
In a statement in Abuja on Saturday, the Director General of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said Ebonyi State Public Health team commenced investigation in a suspected case on July 31.
Ihekweazu said Ebonyi State Public Health team commenced investigation since July 31, adding that three cases tested positive to yellow fever at NCDC’s National Reference Laboratory, which triggered an immediate response.
The DG said: “The Ebonyi State Epidemiology Team is leading the response with support from Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and WHO.
“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that between May 1 and August 7, there have been cases that fit into the case definition for yellow fever and 20 deaths in Izzi Local Government Area, Ebonyi.”
Iheakweazu said the inquiry indicated that the outbreak might have been going on for a few months undetected by local health authorities.
He said: “It is too late to collect samples for confirmation from these cases.
“Immediately it was notified, NCDC deployed rapid response team to support Ebonyi with contact tracing, case finding, risk communications and the management of cases.”
The director-general said that detailed analysis and plans were at advance stages to apply to international vaccine stockpile to enable a reactive vaccination campaign in Ebonyi in response to the cluster of cases.
According to him, yellow fever virus is spread through bites of an infected mosquito and there is no human-to-human transmission of the virus.
He said that yellow fever is a completely vaccine preventable disease and that a single shot provides immunity for life.
He said the vaccine was available and dispensed free in primary health care centres in Nigeria as part of routine immunisation schedule.
“Every child is protected for life if vaccinated. We encourage every family to ensure that children receive all their childhood vaccines,” Ihekweazu said..
In addition to vaccination, Ihekweazu advised the populace to keep their environments clean and free of stagnant water to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes.
He also advised the people to use insecticide treated mosquito nets, screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquito bites.
The director-general cautioned against self-medication and advised that people visit a healthcare facility immediately they fell ill.
He said the symptoms of yellow fever included yellowness of the eyes, sudden fever, headache and body pain.
“If you have these symptoms or notice someone in your community displaying them, please contact your nearest health centre,” Ihekweazu advised.
Since September 2017, Nigeria has recorded cases of yellow fever in all states of the federation.
By July 31, 2019, 78 suspected cases were laboratory confirmed.
A multi-agency yellow fever technical working group coordinated by NCDC has been leading investigation and response to yellow fever cases.
NPHCDA is leading efforts to provide additional opportunity of vaccination through preventive vaccination campaigns across the country.