Medical experts have called on the World Health
Organization (WHO) to convene an emergency committee in an effort to tackle an emerging epidemic of yellow fever infection across the world.
Two experts from Georgetown University Medical Center wrote to the WHO to immediately hold the meeting to decide a response to the new outbreak, which is becoming the latest global health emergency.
Professor Daniel Lucey and Lawrence Gostin urged the health organization to “mobilize funds, coordinate an international response, and spearhead a surge in vaccine production.”
In return, the WHO said that holding an emergency committee meeting on yellow fever was “under discussion.”
The experts also said the world’s health advocates should not have to call for convening an emergency committee for each new international health threat.
Instead, the organization “should establish a standing emergency committee” to decide how to respond as new threats emerge, they said.
“Prior delays by the WHO in convening emergency committees for the Ebola virus, and possibly the on-going Zika epidemic, cost lives and should not be repeated,” wrote the experts.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito which thrives in tropical climates, can carry the yellow fever virus and Zika virus.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which thrives in tropical climates, can carry the yellow fever virus and Zika virus.
Yellow fever, which is a mosquito-borne virus, has gripped Angola since 1986 with more than 250 deaths. There have also been sporadic outbreaks of the viral infection in tropical areas of southern Africa and South America, since the 17th century.
Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have reported cases of yellow fever infections recently. More than 2,000 people may have been infected with the disease, which resulted in death of at least 258 people as of April 26.
Several cases have also been reported in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya among travelers returning from Angola.
There is no specific treatment for the disease, which initially causes symptoms such as fever, a significant backache, and vomiting. Most infected people improve and their symptoms disappear after 3 to 4 days, according to the WHO.
Fifteen percent of the patients, however, enter a second, more toxic phase within 24 hours of the initial remission, the WHO says.
Once the disease develops, high fever returns and several body systems are affected. Fifty percent of patients who enter the toxic phase will die within 10 to 14 days, the rest recover without significant organ damage.
Scientists have warned that yellow fever could imminently reach Europe as the climate gets warm enough for the Aedes aegypti mosquito to flourish.