The new yellow fever case detected in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo was transmitted by a local mosquito, which raises the likelihood of a wider outbreak in the African nation.

According to the World Health Organization, the case, which was confirmed by testing in Dakar this week, is not an imported one from neighbor Angola like the previous occurrences of the disease.

“Measures are being taken to strengthen investigation around this case to prevent the spread,” said WHO spokesman Eugene Kabambi in a Reuters report, adding that WHO is supporting social mobilization and surveillance efforts.

This new confirmed case follows the one in April. Back in May, the WHO said that yellow fever rates in Angola have reached almost 3,000 cases and that 90 percent out of the 41 confirmed cases in Congo — considered a smaller flare-up — came from the country.

The agency added that it was unclear how many mosquitoes in Congo may be carriers of yellow fever or how the discovery of a local carrier will affect the virus’ spread. The disease is known to spread fast in densely populated areas.

Congo currently has 52 confirmed cases of yellow fever, which has already reached Kenya and China. An unrelated outbreak has also hit Uganda, creating worries of the mosquito-borne illness spreading to highly populated African and Asian cities.

The WHO confirmed, however, that Angola and Congo outbreaks are yet to be considered a global health emergency, but it continued to emphasize the need for mass vaccination and further control measures.

Patients with yellow fever usually exhibit symptoms in three to six days after they have been bitten by a carrier mosquito. These symptoms include nausea, appetite loss, muscle pain, fever and vomiting — signs that will likely last up to four days.

Currently, there is no known cure for the disease, which can be lethal in up to half of all cases developing severe jaundice later on. Death can follow up to 14 days after the illness.

Vaccination offers 90 percent protection after 10 days, which climbs to 99 percent after three months. Prior to the development of a vaccine, outbreaks of yellow fever delayed the construction of the Panama Canal and drove Napoleon to cancel his plans of conquering North America. 

Infected persons are advised to stay well hydrated and seek pain management and disease monitoring.

Photo: Ana Cotta | Flickr

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