The outbreak of Yellow Fever in the Savannah and the Upper West regions has claimed 25 lives, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed.
The outbreak, which was initially detected in the Savanna Region, has now spread to the Wa East District in the Upper West Region, and last Tuesday, two more persons died at the Wenchi Methodist Hospital in the Bono Region.
The two were among three cases which had been referred from the neighbouring Bole-Bamboi District in the Savanna Region to the Wenchi facility.
The Wenchi Municipal Director of Health, Mr Robert Kwaku Bio, who confirmed the deaths to the Daily Graphic, explained that blood samples of the three were confirmed at the Public Health Reference Laboratory at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and another one in Dakar, Senegal, as yellow fever.
A statement signed by the Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said 18 people were currently on admission.
The GHS, on October 29, 2021, notified the public about an outbreak of Yellow Fever in some districts in the Savannah Region, with eight deaths reported.
The outbreak was confirmed after initial laboratory tests were conducted by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) and the National Public Health Reference Laboratory.
The GHS, subsequently, dispatched a team of experts from the service, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Office and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to the Savannah Region to investigate the outbreak and implement appropriate control measures.
It said the team, among others, assessed the of risk of Yellow Fever transmission based on the population of the vector responsible for transmitting yellow fever, the aedes mosquito.
Mr Bio explained that following the outbreak, the GHS informed all district and municipal directorates of health to be alert and look out for signs and symptoms in persons who reported to health facilities.
He said not long afterwards, the first victim who was referred from the Bole-Bamboi District died soon on arrival at the Wenchi Methodist Hospital, while the second one also died some days after the referral.
He indicated that although the first victim had died on arrival, his sample was taken because of the signs and symptoms of yellow fever.
“We sent four samples to Korle Bu and three of them were confirmed yellow fever positive.
“Yesterday we sent blood samples of other suspected yellow fever cases to Sunyani to be taken to Korle Bu and we are waiting for the results,” Mr Bio said.
He urged residents of the Wenchi municipality, particularly farmers, to cover themselves properly to save them from being bitten by mosquitoes that cause the disease.
“Let us be very careful because the Wenchi municipality shares boundaries with Bole-Bamboi in the Savannah Region where there is an outbreak of yellow fever,” he cautioned.
Meanwhile, the GHS says it has implemented several interventions, including targeted vaccination of selected communities for Yellow Fever in the affected districts in a bid to control the disease and prevent it from spreading further.
As of November 15, 2021, more than 43,615 people had been vaccinated in the Savannah Region as part of the intervention.
Also, the service has dispatched 50,300 doses of Yellow Fever vaccines from Accra, with the support of the Ghana Air Force, to the Savannah Regional Health Directorate for onward distribution to selected districts for vaccination.
The service has thus given an assurance that, together with the Ministry of Health, it will continue to engage its partners, such as the WHO and the CDC, to ensure that the outbreak is brought under full control.
“The GHS will continue with efforts aimed at improving outcomes for persons who are unfortunately affected, while continuing with the vaccination drive to improve the immunity of the population against Yellow Fever,” the DG said.
According to the WHO, Yellow fever is an acute viral internal bleeding disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The “yellow” in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients.
• Symptoms of yellow fever include fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
• A small proportion of patients who contract the virus develop severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within 7 to 10 days.
• The virus is endemic in the tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.
• Large epidemics of yellow fever occur when infected people introduce the virus into heavily populated areas with high mosquito density and where most people have little or no immunity due to lack of vaccination. In these conditions, infected mosquitoes of the Aedes aegypti species transmit the virus from person to person.
• The disease is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine, which is safe and affordable. A single dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to grant sustained immunity and life-long protection against yellow fever disease.