Yellow Fever in Ivory Coast
This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.
The World Health Organization has launched a campaign to prevent yellow fever from spreading in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Health officials say at least three-million dollars is needed to buy emergency vaccine medicine to protect against the disease. They say that several cases of yellow fever have been confirmed in the capital. However, they believe the situation could be more serious than the number of cases suggests.
Yellow fever is spread by mosquito insects. It is a rare disease. However, officials say it can spread very quickly in high population areas. For example, in crowded cities like Abidjan, mosquitoes often live in or near people's homes.
Yellow fever is difficult to recognize in its early development. It is often mistaken for malaria, typhoid or other causes of fever. It usually takes up to ten days before signs of the disease appear in the body. The disease becomes more serious if it is not treated. The victims may bleed from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach. The disease also damages the liver. Officials say that as many as fifty percent of people who have signs of the more serious disease die within the first two weeks.
Gregory Hartl is a spokesman for the World Health Organization. He says Abidjan has a population of more than three-million-five-hundred-thousand people. However, only about forty percent of the city's population has received the vaccine to prevent yellow fever. Mr. Hartl says this means there are still more than two-million people at risk of getting the disease. He says that the normal attack rate for yellow fever is thirty percent. So he believes there could be as many as seven-hundred-thousand people in Abidjan who might get yellow fever.
The W-H-O is working with the Ministry of Public Health in Ivory Coast to develop the vaccine campaign. The organization is working to buy supplies of the vaccine and send them to Abidjan.
Officials say the disease could spread quickly through the city. The W-H-O is urging member countries to give money for the campaign to provide the vaccine. Without it, the organization says a humanitarian tragedy is possible.
This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jill Moss.