Deaths in Fiji down thanks to Yellow Fever vaccines

Image: Getty Images Papua New Guinea’s second case of the deadly cyclone-driven Yellow Fever disease has been reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The PNG office of National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)…

Deaths in Fiji down thanks to Yellow Fever vaccines

Image: Getty Images

Papua New Guinea’s second case of the deadly cyclone-driven Yellow Fever disease has been reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The PNG office of National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed the second case on Tuesday, according to WHO.

The first Papua New Guinea case was reported nearly two years ago.

Cyclone Pam in 2015 wreaked havoc across most of the Pacific island nations of Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Pago Pago, destroying homes, roads and infrastructure and killing nearly 800 people.

In addition to carrying Yellow Fever, the cyclone hit Fiji’s main port of Nadi, causing a five-metre-high tidal surge which flooded almost all of the city of 25,000 people.

This June, 150 people were confined to camps following the cyclone in Fiji’s southern islands, and several other localities, while rebuilding was underway.

Last year, Fiji passed a law requiring all schoolchildren aged 11 and younger to come into school vaccinated against Yellow Fever, following the devastation of Cyclone Pam.

“Yellow Fever is still devastating families and communities throughout the Pacific, and needs to be treated as a priority. The situation is exacerbated by the cyclone season, which is ongoing this year,” said Jennifer Rankin, Regional Communications Officer at World Health Organisation.

As well as the PNG, Pago Pago, Samoa, Tonga, American Samoa, Niue, Samoa, Fiji, the Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia are among the nations in the region with ongoing outbreaks.

Although most of the people infected in these areas die within weeks, the disease can have a deadly impact on adults and children, who can die from septicemia or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

Symptoms of Yellow Fever usually begin with fever, followed by muscle aches, chills, headache, and exhaustion. Other possible symptoms include jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and skin or joint pain.

The disease has traditionally been transmitted via rodents infected with a bacterium carried by mosquitoes, but in the past several years there has been a increase in cases in human carriers.

While Yellow Fever is carried by mosquitoes, the conditions that contribute to its spread include boat and vehicle traffic, population growth, wind, and the introduction of bushmeat and pets to areas previously free of the disease.

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