Emergencies preparedness, response

Yellow fever in Sudan

27 May 2003

Disease Outbreak Reported

The Early Warning and Response Networkwas established in 1999 in southern Sudan to rapidly detect and investigate outbreaks and launch responses. In the first week of May 2003, EWARN received reports from Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) of an outbreak of unknown aetiology in the Imatong mountains, southern Sudan. Clinical signs included headache, neck and back pain, joint pain, high fever, followed by nasal bleeding, blood vomiting and diarrhoea.

An EWARN joint field investigation team including WHO, the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) rapidly investigated the report from 11 to 15 May and found 178 cases and 27 deaths in Imatong and Ikotos districts, Torrit county, in the south-eastern part of the country.

During the field investigation, the EWARN team collected samples for diagnosis. Seventeen yellow fever cases have now been confirmed by KEMRI and by the Special Pathogens Laboratory, National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg, South Africa.

EWARN, KEMRI and the Special Pathogens Laboratory are all partners in the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.

WHO is assisting Sudan in containing the outbreak of yellow fever. WHO and partners including the NCA, UNICEF and the World Food Programme are providing technical assistance, vaccine and vaccine supplies for the vaccination campaign targeting c. 100 000 people in areas where OLS is providing humanitarian assistance. WHO is also assisting the Ministry of Health which is planning a vaccination campaign targeting 85 000 people in Torrit town.

For more information on yellow fever, see WHO fact sheet .