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WHO cites urban yellow fever threat after first cases in Latam city in over 60 years

WHO cites urban yellow fever threat after first cases in Latam city in over 60 years

The U.N. health agency said Wednesday it was closely monitoring vaccine supplies for yellow fever as it confirmed the first cases of the deadly disease in a Latin American urban area in more than 60 years.
Dr. William Perea, the World Health Organization's yellow fever chief, said the mosquito-born disease can spread particularly fast in suburbs and cities, and warned that people will need vaccines to stem the outbreak.
The WHO said there have been nine confirmed cases in the suburbs of Paraguay's capital, Asuncion. The health organization said three people have died, though Paraguayan authorities have placed the death toll at eight.
In cities, yellow fever can "spread like a fire in the forest," Perea said, adding that mosquitoes thrive especially in urban areas with poor hygiene and sanitation.
He told a conference call that many people in Latin America's cities have not been exposed to the virus and therefore have not developed any immunity. In the jungle, where most yellow fever outbreaks occur, people have better defenses against the virus.
WHO experts said a mass vaccination was currently under way in Paraguay to halt the spread of the disease.
Dr. Marlo Libel, of WHO's regional office for the Americas, said the situation was "under control."
The yellow fever outbreak is Paraguay's first since 1974. The last yellow fever cases in any Latin American city were in the 1940s in Brazil, Libel said.
An estimated 30,000 people worldwide die annually from the disease, according to WHO. Symptoms can include fevers, vomiting, jaundice and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes and stomach.


Updated : 2021-04-14 11:04 GMT+08:00