, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – Health workers were placed on high alert Wednesday for yellow fever, after a Kenyan who has been living in Angola died at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Up to 250 people have died from yellow fever in Angola since late December 2015 when the first case was detected.
- There is no specific treatment for yellow fever, a viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and found in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America.
- Angolan authorities launched a mass vaccination campaign in February.
- Luanda remains the worst-hit area, with nine of every 10 deaths registered in the city over the last days.
- We don't have the human resources to cope," Campos added.
Kenya’s Acting Director of Medical Services Dr Jackson Kioko said the deceased had been living in Angola for more than 10 years, but fell sick on arrival in Kenya at the weekend.
“He sought treatment at a health facility that referred him to Kenyatta National Hospital where advanced yellow fever symptoms were detected,” Dr Kioko told Capital FM news on telephone. “He was placed in an isolation ward and died last (Tuesday) night while undergoing treatment.”
Kioko said health workers at all the airports and other entry points had been placed on high alert to thoroughly screen all passengers arriving from Angola and other countries with yellow fever history.
“We are not taking any chances, and that is why we have advised health workers at the airports and other areas to thoroughly screen passengers and take travel history of anyone from Angola and other countries listed as having an active outbreak by the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.
Health workers in all other facilities were directed to take precautions and isolate any patient suspected to have the disease before referring them to hospitals with a capacity to handle such cases.
The head of the Luanda paediatrics hospital, Mateus Campos, said 27 children died there on Monday alone, with 900 suspected cases turning up each day.
Angola’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Adelaide de Carvalho told AFP that the ministry registered 76 suspect cases and 10 deaths in three days alone this month, but gave no overall toll.
A week ago the World Health Organisation put the death toll at 250 but some doctors believe the situation may be far worse.
Critics such as surgeon Maurilio Luyela have blasted authorities for failing to upgrade public health facilities or pay doctors good wages.
“Doctors who graduate from university don’t join the public health sector because there isn’t enough money to pay them,” he told journalists.
Yellow fever vaccinations are routinely recommended for travellers to Angola, though the country had not previously seen a significant outbreak since 1986.
World Health Organization figures show there are an estimated 130,000 cases of yellow fever reported yearly, causing 44,000 deaths worldwide each year, with 90 percent occurring in Africa.