Yellow fever in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

19 July 2010 -- On 25 June 2010, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) reported a suspected case of Yellow fever in Titule, Base Ouele district of Orientale province (northern part of the country). Between March and June, 11 other suspected cases were reported, including two deaths.

The index case was identified as a 43 year-old male farmer who presented with clinical symptoms of fever, jaundice and haematuria (blood in urine). The onset date of his illness was 15 March 2010 and he died a few days later. He had no history of yellow fever vaccination. Laboratory tests conducted by the Institut National de Recherche Médicale (INRB) in Kinshasa showed IgM positive by ELISA test and was confirmed by the regional reference laboratory for yellow fever at the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal with more specific tests (plaque reduction neutralization test or PRNT).

Following identification of the index case (the 43 year old male), an investigation is being conducted in the town inhabited by some 17,000 people for the purpose of determining the scope of the outbreak response and prepare for emergency vaccination.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is among Africa's yellow fever endemic countries and, in 2003, introduced yellow fever vaccine in the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) for all children at 9 months of age. The DRC has not yet benefitted from preventive vaccination campaigns.