South Sudan Reports Outbreak of Yellow Fever

St. Theresa Takes Steps to Ready Hospital in Nzara

The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed thirty cases of the viral disease yellow fever in the Western Equatoria state of South Sudan. As of February 1, six deaths were reported among the thirty cases identified.

Fifteen of the cases occurred in Yambio County where the largest outbreak remains, with seven cases confirmed in Tombura, five in Nzara, two in Ebba, and one instance reported in Ezo. 

South Sudan’s Ministry of Health has activated an emergency operations center and a rapid response team to monitor the outbreak and conduct investigations.

Yellow fever is a bloodborne disease transmitted to victims by mosquitoes, and is considered highly infectious. Early onset symptoms include fever, muscle pain, prominent backache, headache, and loss of appetite, which may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. 

If allowed to progress, yellow fever can result in coma and organ shutdown. The death rate in severe cases is estimated at 50 percent, similar to Ebola. 

Victims can be infected with yellow fever for days before presenting symptoms, which escalates chances of the disease’s spread and the challenge of containing it. 

South Sudan is situated in the yellow fever belt and the nation experienced previous outbreaks in 2003, 2018 and 2020. In the absence of widespread vaccination campaigns, concerns remain that hospitals could quickly become overwhelmed in the event of a large spread of the disease. 

Healthcare professionals are stressing the need for early detection, testing, education, and preventive vaccination measures to contain an outbreak.

St. Theresa Hospital, a Sudan Relief Fund sponsored facility in Nzara, is taking steps to ready its staff and facility. Currently the hospital is working with the World Health Organization and other NGOs to set up isolation areas to treat infected patients and contain the disease.  

Civilians are urged to protect themselves from mosquitoes both day and night by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, treating clothes and gear with repellent sprays, regularly eliminating standing water sources, and utilizing mosquito nets. Travelers are encouraged to receive the vaccine if journeying to an affected area.