The World Health Organization (WHO) announced this week they would be launching emergency preemptive vaccination campaigns on the DR Congo, Angola border and the city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to halt the epidemic and prevent the risk of further international spread.

Aedes aegypti Image/CDC
Aedes aegypti

The initial phase of the campaign which begins in July will focus on districts where there is high movement of people and intense trade activities, particularly the northern border districts of Angola and targeted border districts in neighboring countries. Specifically, within a 75-100km belt spanning the border between Angola and DR Congo and targeted health zones/communes at risk in Kinshasa city in the DR Congo. This will create an immune buffer to prevent further international spread.

“While WHO is working with partners and vaccine manufacturers to increase vaccine production and replenish the emergency stockpile currently being used for this outbreak, it is vital to interrupt transmission, especially in cross-border areas to rapidly bring this outbreak under control and halt further international spread,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.

Angola and DR Congo are being supported by WHO and partners to strengthen yellow fever screening for evidence at all  major points of entry including – Luanda, Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Matadi. Yellow fever vaccination is being offered at these points of entry for eligible travelers.

In Angola, the Ministry of Health has reported a total of 3294 suspected cases of which 861 are laboratory confirmed since Dec. 5. The total number of reported deaths is 347, of which 115 are reported among confirmed cases.

To date, DRC has reported 1106 suspected and 68 confirmed cases with 75 deaths.

After reporting some 22 suspect yellow fever cases in Ethiopia earlier this month, WHO now reports all the 22 suspected yellow fever cases reported earlier from South Omo zone tested negative for yellow fever.