Outbreaks

Yellow fever vaccination drive in Congo's capital hits target

Congolese people queue to receive vaccination against yellow fever in Gombe district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.

Congolese people queue to receive vaccination against yellow fever in Gombe district, of the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.  (Copyright Reuters 2016)

A vaccination campaign against yellow fever in Congo's capital is almost complete, but the gains may be reversed by the looming rainy season and the spread of the disease to areas where people have not yet been vaccinated, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Health officials began a campaign to vaccinate 7.5 million people in Kinshasa last week to combat the worst outbreak in decades of the hemorrhagic virus. More than 400 people have died in Congo and neighboring Angola since December.

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In all, health authorities aim to vaccinate 14 million people in the two countries by the end of August to halt the spread of the disease before the rainy season next month.

As of Thursday, 6,925,276 people, or 91.3 percent of the target population, in Kinshasa were vaccinated in the latest campaign, WHO said in a weekly report. About 2 million people were vaccinated in Kinshasa during campaigns in May and July.

The campaign wrapped up on Friday, but health workers will continue over the coming days to seek out individuals they missed, said WHO's Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi.

"We had to resolve this before the rains ... It's a big success," Kabambi said, adding that additional preventive measures need to be taken to definitively stop transmission.

WHO's report warned that the outbreak risks spreading to areas not previously touched by yellow fever. So far, eight of the country's 26 provinces have reported suspected cases.