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Friday, July 29, 2011

Essay on Yellow Fever in Nigeria - Dangers of Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. (“Yellow Fever,” 2009) Because the carriers of this virus are mosquitoes its transmission is relatively very easy.  There are two most common types of transmitting yellow fever. The first is Jungle Yellow Fever which is a disease mainly transmitted among monkeys but which can also be passed on to mosquitoes that bite these monkeys. (“Yellow Fever,” 2009) The second is the Urban Yellow Fever, which is a disease of spread by mosquitoes that affects humans.  (“Yellow Fever” 2009) The Urban Yellow Fever is more dangerous because an infected mosquito may breed in pots, used tires and containers in cities, towns and villages.  While yellow fever infections are mild, it can cause severe life-threatening illness.  It can also lead to bleeding, and kidney and liver failure.  Because of its severity and its transmissibility, yellow fever is considered as one of the most feared epidemic diseases in the world today. (Mariola Espinosa, 2008) Thus, yellow fever is an important public health issue which must be controlled otherwise cases of death of up to 30,000 will continue every year.  (“Yellow Fever,” 2009)

Nigeria is one of the countries included as an endemic zone in Africa. (“Yellow Fever: A Current Threat,” 2009) Currently, Nigeria has one of the largest populations compared to any other countries in Africa with a population of up to 131 million.  Its urban population is presently experiencing a rapid growth rate making the cities overcrowded.  World Health Organization in 2005 estimated that its urban population reached up to 63 million or 48% of its total population. (“Increased Risk of Urban Yellow Fever in Africa,” 2009) 

Consequently, in Nigerian cities it is common to see informal settlers living in shanties.  Inadequate water supplies and poor sanitation are also common cause of concern in Nigeria.  It can be said that the rise of the urban population and the migration of people from rural areas to urban areas have made Nigeria vulnerable to yellow fever.  Moreover, its poor sanitation services have made it as one of the breeding sites of infected mosquitoes. A look at the history of Nigeria will reveal that its last outbreak happened in 1986. (Sheldon Watts 2001) When the epidemic broke about a total of 10,000 people were infected with death of up to 5,000.  (Sheldon Watts 2001)  Moreover, it took Nigeria ten (10) years to control the transmission of the virus in the population. (“Increased Risk of Urban Yellow Fever in Africa,” 2009)

The danger of yellow fever is further emphasized in the incident which happened in Cameroon, a country which can be found near Nigeria.  It had been conducting period mass preventive yellow fever vaccination since the 1930s.  However, it temporarily stopped administering vaccinations for two decades.  As a result, Cameroon started experiencing yellow fever epidemics.  During the months of September to December 1990 alone, there were 182 reported cases of infections with 69% fatality rate.  (Wrysonge, et al 2008) It is estimated that at least 20,000 may have contracted the disease for that period where vaccination stopped.

Considering these factual circumstances and the possibility that yellow fever may reach other continents such as Europe and Asia, it is without question that it must be controlled.  The question now left to be answered is how does one avoid becoming infected with yellow fever? And, if ever one is infected with yellow fever what steps should a person take to be cured?

The problem of yellow fever can be addressed from the perspective of prevention and cure.  Prevention is always the best remedy in fighting a disease.  It is always essential to keep one step ahead in terms of disease prevention. 

First, considering that majority of the cases of yellow fever is found in the tropical regions of Africa and in certain areas in South America it would be wise for travelers to avoid going to these locations and to stay away from these areas unless it is necessary for them to visit these areas.  Second, if going to these areas is a necessity, the person must take all the necessary precaution against mosquito bites.  When an individual visits Nigeria, he must ensure that he is vaccinated against yellow fever.  Vaccinations are effective and safe weapons against yellow fever. (Wrysonge, et al 2008) Moreover, a single dose of vaccine is capable of giving protection to the individual for ten (10) years and more.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), in some countries vaccination is not an issue of choice as there are countries that require proof of vaccination against yellow fever before entry is allowed.  Presently, health officials in Nigeria require any person who is travelling to Nigeria to present an international certificate otherwise known as International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) for yellow fever.

Other precautionary measures involve wearing of long-sleeved shirt or clothing and long pants, applying of insect repellant on the skin, spraying of insecticide inside the home and staying indoors during the day since the infected mosquitoes are more numerous during the day.  Third, should a person be bitten by an infected mosquito and symptoms of this fever appear in a person, he is advised to rest and take lots of liquids.  He is also advised to take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve the symptoms of fever.  He is also advised to seek immediate medical help.

Information campaign and dissemination is always an important part of the fight against yellow fever.  At present, it seems that the government agencies and other private entities are doing the right thing in addressing this problem.  The CDC and the WHO are keeping the public well-informed about this problem in the national level.  In the local level, it is advised that local agencies take their role in helping disseminate information about this disease.

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