1997 - Yellow fever in Liberia
11 August 1997
Disease Outbreak Reported
A case of yellow fever has been confirmed in a 35-year old male hospitalized in Lofa County in the northern part of the country on 6 July. A second case is being investigated.
Epidemiological surveillance and early warning system is being strengthened with Medical Emergency Relief International (MERLIN), a NGO active in the area. A mass vaccination campaign is being organized jointly by the Ministry of Health, WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), MERLIN and Unicef. Blood samples taken on the evening of 7 July and the morning of 8 July were transported to Monrovia and forwarded for laboratory investigation. The patient subsequently died. The diagnosis was made on the basis of the detection of IgM antibody to yellow fever virus. The samples were first tested at the Institut Pasteur in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and then referred to the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arboviruses and other Haemorrhagic Fevers, Institut Pasteur, Paris on 6 August.
Comment: The large scale immunization campaign conducted in early 1997, following the outbreak which started in July 1995, reached nearly 80% of the 1.3 million people targeted for immunization. However, it could not then be extended to Lofa County due to the war. The present immunization campaign is expected to reach the many refugees that are presently being repatriated from Guinea. This year's campaign may be difficult as it will be conducted during the rainy season and the bridges leading into the County have been destroyed. Liberian refugees in Côte d'Ivoire were immunized in close collaboration with the governement of Côte d'Ivoire.
(Based on information received from MERLIN, and the WHO Collaborating Centres at Institut Pasteur, Abidjan and Institut Pasteur, Paris)