Nearly 2,000 people are thought to be suffering from yellow fever in the southern African nation of Angola, as health experts investigate an outbreak that began in December. The World Health Organization says over 200 people have died so far from the mosquito-borne illness and the outbreak has spread to nearly every province in the country. Yellow fever is carried by the same variety of mosquito—Aedes aegypti—that also spreads dengue fever and the Zika virus, and the WHO now reports that the yellow fever outbreak in Angola could pose “a threat for the entire world.”

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Yellow fever is not completely uncommon in tropical regions, but the size of this outbreak has health officials concerned. The first case was reported in Angola in December, and the WHO reports that 1,708 suspected cases had been documented as of April 7. Included in that figure are 238 deaths. The disease has so far been reported in 16 of the country’s 18 provinces; the hardest hit has been Luanda, which has reported 1,135 cases (405 confirmed) and 165 deaths.

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Centers for Disease Control have issued a Level 2 alert for yellow fever in Angola, warning people to avoid traveling to the area or to obtain a vaccination before visiting. Health officials warn that the outbreak could pop up in other areas where the same mosquito vector is prevalent. Because of the recent Zika virus outbreaks in South and Central America, the WHO says it is possible the future may bring yellow fever to those areas as well. So far, the highest level of concern remains on the African continent. This month alone, the organization issued warnings about yellow fever not only in Angola but also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which borders Angola to the north, and Kenya, on the other side of the continent. Officials have reported one case in China, but the patient was a man who had just returned home to China from Angola, where it is thought he contracted the disease.

The majority of people who contract yellow fever have mild or no symptoms, and those who do will experience flu-like conditions, including fever, chills, head and body aches, and fatigue. Most people recover within a day or two, but around 15 percent of cases progress to a more serious level, which results in jaundice, bleeding, multiple organ failure, and death.

Via The Independent

Images via Wikipedia and CDC