Yellow fever slows in Angola but not in DRC as WHO response criticized
The pace of yellow fever cases in Angola has slowed further but shows no sign of relenting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an update today. Meanwhile, an Associated Press (AP) report highlighted the organization's response failings, including a million lost doses of vaccine.
Angola has reported 3,818 cases since its outbreak began, 70 more than reported last week. Of those, 879 are lab-confirmed. The country has had 369 deaths (119 lab-confirmed), up by 5 from last week.
None of the Angolan yellow fever cases, however, were reported in July, a promising sign, the WHO said. But it added, "However, a high level of vigilance needs to be maintained throughout the country, and the pre-emptive mass vaccination campaign will be implemented as planned."
The DRC has reported 2,051 yellow fever cases, including 76 confirmed cases and 95 deaths, the agency said. That number is up by 144 cases, compared with a 109-case increase the week before. The fatality count did not increase from the previous week.
The WHO said, however, "Further cases are expected to be confirmed in the next days or weeks due to the backlog at the national laboratory which stemmed from technical issues that are now resolved."
Vaccination campaigns were conducted in the DRC from Jul 20 to Jul 29, the WHO said. The most affected group in that country are males 15 to 24 years old.
Aug 5 WHO update
An AP investigation into the yellow fever outbreak found that WHO officials shipped more than 6 million yellow fever vaccine doses to Angola in February in the early stages of the epidemic, only to find out a month later that about 1 million doses had inexplicably disappeared. And some doses where sent to unaffected regions, while others arrived in affected areas but without syringes.
"This lack of oversight and mismanagement has undermined control of the outbreak in Central Africa, the worst yellow fever epidemic in decades," the AP report noted.
Amanda McClelland, a senior official with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said the crisis is a repeat of WHO's mismanagement of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014. "It was the same people at WHO that made the initial calls during Ebola and it was the exact same response: 'We've got enough, we don't need any help and it's all under control.' "
Bruce Aylward, MD, MPH, who directed the WHO's Ebola response, acknowledged that more changes are still needed for adequate outbreak response. "It would be a mistake to think that WHO is now ready," he said.
Aug 5 AP report
CDC report multistate 30-case Salmonella outbreak tied to sprouts
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today reported that 30 people have contracted salmonellosis in a nine-state outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire of Denver.
Of those who fell ill, 24 were infected with Salmonella Reading, 1 was infected with Salmonella Abony, and 5 were infected with both strains. Five patients required hospitalization, but no deaths were reported.
Illness-onset dates range from May 21 to Jul 20, and patients are from less than 1 year to 72, with a median age of 30. Sixteen are female. Of 27 patients who were interviewed, 17 (63%) reported eating or possibly eating alfalfa sprouts in the week before they became sick. That figure would be about 3% in healthy people.
In response, Sprouts Extraordinaire today recalled its alfalfa sprout products from the market over possible Salmonella contamination, the CDC said. The products were sold in 5-pound boxes labeled "Living Alfalfa Sprouts."
Aug 5 CDC statement