Eight dead in Colombia's yellow fever outbreak
Colombia is scrambling to control an outbreak of yellow fever along its popular Caribbean coast that has killed eight people and infected 27 more, Reuters reported yesterday.
The government launched an immunization campaign and closed five parks, including Sierra Nevada, a popular tourist destination (Reuters/Planet Ark, Jan. 26). The outbreak, which began several weeks ago, prompted the Ministry of Health to declare a state of emergency, as some cases struck close to densely populated cities.
The vaccination campaign will target almost 3 million adults and children over 1 year of age. Friday Colombia received 1.5 million doses of vaccine from Brazil and Venezuela.
The mosquito-borne illness typically results in fever, muscle pain and nausea for three to four days. In about 15 percent of cases, however, patients then enter a "toxic phase" characterized by bleeding from orifices and, sometimes, renal failure. About half these patients die.
According to the Pan American Health Organization, there is no specific treatment for yellow fever, so vaccination is critical (PAHO release, Jan. 23).