The World Health Organization has declared an end to the yellow fever outbreak that killed about 400 people in Congo and Angola, calling it "one of the largest and most challenging" in recent years.
The outbreak, first detected in Angola in late 2015, caused 965 confirmed cases and thousands of suspected cases in both countries, the WHO said in a statement Tuesday. Neither country has reported a new confirmed case in the past six months.
"We are able to declare the end of one of the largest and most challenging yellow fever outbreak in recent years through the strong and coordinated response by national authorities, local health workers and partners," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, commending the unprecedented and immense response to the outbreak.
The outbreak, which was first detected in Angola in December 2015, had caused 965 confirmed cases of yellow fever across the two countries, with thousands more cases suspected. The last case detected in Angola was on 23 June 2016 and DRC's last case was on 12 July the same year.
More than 30 million people were vaccinated in the two countries in emergency vaccination campaigns. This key part of the response included mop up and preventative campaigns in hard to reach areas up until the end of the year to ensure vaccine protection for as many people in all areas of risk as possible. This unprecedented response exhausted the global stockpile of yellow fever vaccines several times.
In addition to supporting mass vaccination campaigns, WHO and partners continue to provide support to Angola and DRC to strengthen disease surveillance, to control the spread of mosquitoes and engage communities so that they can protect themselves.
Climate change, the increased mobility of people within and across borders from rural to densely populated urban areas, and the resurgence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito are increasing the risk of yellow fever epidemics.
There is no known cure for the mosquito-spread virus, which is easily prevented with vaccines. Once infected, people often fall ill with fever and muscle pain, but many recover after several days. The more toxic phase includes possible bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose, jaundice and organ failure.