Health workers will vaccinate 1.7 million people in Sudan against yellow fever in response to a current outbreak that has killed 131 people in recent weeks, the U.N. health agency said Tuesday. The situation is worrisome because central Sudan, where all the deaths occurred, is not usually prone to yellow fever and the people there lack immunity to the disease, said Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman at the World Health Organization.
Vaccination is the best weapon against the spread of yellow fever, according to the WHO. A single dose of vaccine protects people for at least 10 years and perhaps for life, the agency says. Yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitos, is present in 33 African countries and some areas of South America and the Caribbean, but cases are rare.
People who contact yellow fever usually suffer in the first three to four days from high fever, muscle pain, headache, shivers and nausea. About 15 percent of those infected then develop worse symptoms, which include jaundice and strong bleeding. Half of these people die within 10 to 14 days.
Sudan's health ministry has reported 530 cases since an outbreak first surfaced in mid-November. All cases occurred in the South Kordofan State in central Sudan, reports the AP. N.U.