UPDATE 1-Yellow fever outbreaks in Africa need action, mass vaccination - WHO
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By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA May 19 (Reuters) - Outbreaks of deadly yellow fever in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo do not constitute a global health emergency but require stepped-up control measures and mass vaccination, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.
The disease, which has a high fatality rate, has already spread to Kenya and China and there is an unrelated outbreak in Uganda, generating fears of the mosquito-borne disease jumping to sprawling cities in Asia and Africa.
"This can be a devastating disease with rapid spread particularly in urban areas," Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO executive director of outbreaks and health emergencies, said after its emergency committee on yellow fever held a first meeting.
"The big push really is around surveillance and laboratory diagnostics capacity so that if people start turning yellow and dying, you get diagnostics rapidly and vaccination," Aylward told Reuters.
The more than 2,400 suspect cases and 300 deaths in just four months in Angola "reinforced the potentially explosive nature of this disease and the risk internationally", he said.
The panel of eight independent experts, led by Nigerian Professor Oyewale Tomori, said that urban yellow fever poses "serious national and international risks" but stopped short of declaring it a global emergency like the Zika virus or polio.
"Much concern was focused on (ways) to ensure it does not become what we do not want it to become," Tomori said. Continuación...