Tanzania on high alert as Kenya reports yellow fever outbreak

Tanzania’s Minister of Health Ummy Mwalimu has urged the public to take precautions against yellow fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes acute illness in patients.

This comes after the World Health Organisation’s country office in Tanzania informed the ministry about the outbreak of the disease in Kenya.

In the past week, Kenya’s ministry said new cases of yellow fever were detected in Isiolo Country, the upper eastern region.

About 30% to 60% of all individuals diagnosed with the disease in a given area can die from it.

Fifteen patients identified in Kenya were presenting with fever, jaundice, muscle and joint pains, according to Acting Director General of Health Patrick Amoth, and the first case was detected on January 12th this year.

In Tanzania, the health minister Ms Mwalimu says the country has so far not detected any case of yellow fever.

Yellow fever is prevented through vaccination. A yellow fever vaccine is mandatory to travellers arriving from yellow fever- endemic countries. This condition also applies to travellers subjected to long flight connection (transit) in an endemic country for twelve hours (12hrs) or more.

Ms Mwalimu said the government is improving its electronic surveillance systems at border crossings and preventing “cases of fraud among officials likely to issue certificates to people who have not been vaccinated.”

Most yellow fever cases that are identified in Africa are seen in the unvaccinated population who live in the yellow fever belt, studies show.

The minister has instructed all referral hospitals in Tanzania to have in place yellow fever testing services for travellers and those who need the vaccination.

Port health officials have also been instructed to ensure that travellers entering from infected countries show their vaccination certificates.

Tanzania is mapped by the World Health Organization as a low risk country because no Yellow fever virus has been isolated in the country.

How to know if you have yellow fever

Symptoms of yellow fever jaundice include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, body tremors, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, body aches, bleeding from the pores of the skin.

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