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SASTM Newsflash - Yellow fever: Ghana, Africa

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YELLOW FEVER - AFRICA : GHANA (UPPER WEST)

 

The Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (GFELTP) recently participated in the investigation of a yellow fever outbreak in Jirapa district, located in the northwestern corner of the Upper West Region of Ghana. The outbreak was first reported on 7 Feb 2013 by the District Health Director of Jirapa district, who also happens to be a resident of the GFELTP. The 1st case of jaundice was identified at St Joseph's Hospital in Jirapa district, which was then followed by 10 other cases in a space of 4 weeks from 7 Feb to 4 Mar 2013.

 

An initial investigation of the suspected outbreak was done by the Upper West Regional and Jirapa District Health Management Teams (DHMT). They were later joined by the Disease Surveillance Department and 8 Cohorts V and VI residents of the GFELTP for a follow up investigation from 13 to 17 Mar 2013.

 

Blood samples from all the suspected cases were sent through the Regional Health Directorate to the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL) for confirmation. Prior to the receipt of feedback from the NPHRL, 3 of the suspected cases died. The outbreak team together with the DHMT reviewed records of cases of jaundice at St Joseph's Hospital, they sensitized the district and sub district health workers on the need for active surveillance, the team also followed-up on the contacts of probable case, reviewed records of all the other cases at the hospital, they visited the case patient at the regional hospital and assessed yellow fever, measles, meningitis, and acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) activities in the district.

 

The follow up investigation aimed to determine the extent of the suspected outbreak, identify the source and individuals at risk, identify risk factors of the outbreak, determine yellow fever vaccination coverage, evaluate the outbreak investigation, and recommend additional control and preventive measures needed.

 

Communicated by: ProMED-mail

 

[There have been sporadic cases of yellow fever (YF) in Ghana in recent years, including this one (2013). Curiously the report above does not mention whether a follow up vaccination campaign is planned or underway in the affected locality. Recently, the 1st phase of a mass vaccination campaign was conducted in November 2011 and targeted a population of 5.8 million people covering 40 districts (8 regions).

A YF reactive campaign was carried out in 3 more districts. The 2nd phase, planned for 2012, targeted 1.7 million people spanning 17 districts.

 

It is gratifying to learn the health system in Ghana is very responsive to yellow fever cases in a timely way in this situation, with active surveillance and laboratory support. It is also good to learn that the situation above was used as a field training mechanism for the Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program

(GFELTP) that will fill a much needed niche in public health services.

 

 

 


 

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