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160m people at risk of yellow fever – WHO

By Blessing Bature, Abuja

The world health organization (WHO) has said nigeria’s population is around 200 million people, with 160 million people at risk of yellow fever.

Medical Officer for the World Health Organization Nigeria, Dr Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste disclosed this yesterday in Abuja that this makes up around 25% of all the people at risk in Africa.

She explained that Yellow fever is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes, saying yellow fever is dangerous because a small percentage of patients will go through a more toxic phase of the disease. By then they will experience fever, have system failure, mainly in the kidney and liver. They may experience bleeding coming from the mouth, nose and eyes and within 7 to 10 days, half of them will die.

According to her, “Home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities, Nigeria is at risk of both urban and sylvatic (jungle) exposure to the disease. Sylvatic exposure is the transmission of yellow fever from mosquitos that have bitten animals and non-human primates. Workers in mining and agriculture are particularly vulnerable to this type of transmission.

She said, In 2017, there was a resurgence in yellow fever in Nigeria after 15 years. This is due to gaps in detection of the disease rather than lack of transmission of the virus and the cyclical nature of sylvatic transmission. As surveillance and laboratory testing have been strengthened, improved information about the distribution of the disease in humans has become available.

Also, Director General of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa explained “we have strengthened surveillance considerably. We have reference laboratories in the country that have been strengthened, and are being supported and assessed to make sure they are meeting all the performance parameters in terms of sample collection and referral to our reference labs in Abuja.

He said, “Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have given out over 66 million doses* in 2020 and 2021 to protect people from yellow fever outbreaks. This achievement has been possible through routine immunization, as well as mass vaccination campaigns that identify gaps in the population and proactively target vulnerable communities.”

Dr Adetifa features in a second film that documents the roll-out of a vaccination campaign in Taraba State, and brings to light the global effort required to keep Nigerians safe.

He said This number was estimated at the time of the filming. Actual number for preventive and reactive mass vaccination campaigns is 45 million during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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