Physicians urge Nigerians to get vaccinated against yellow fever

Yellow fever

Janet Ogundepo

With the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention warning about the increased possibility of a yellow fever outbreak during the rainy season, public health specialists have advised Nigerians to get inoculated with the yellow fever vaccine.

The physicians also called for proper environmental sanitation to prevent the breeding of the disease vector and advised persons with feverish symptoms to immediately report to the hospital for testing and treatment.

The experts further warned against using herbal cocktails to treat yellow fever, warning that such treatment can harm the liver and worsen health outcomes.

The NCDC, last week, hinted at the fact that yellow fever, like cholera, can spread fast during the rainy season.

The NCDC Director-General, Dr Jide Idris, stated that the spike in yellow fever incidents was due to an increase in the prevalence of mosquitoes, which are the primary vectors for the disease.

NCDC DG, Dr Jide Idris 2

He explained that yellow fever is an epidemic-prone, vaccine-preventable disease caused by an arbovirus transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of infected Aedes and Haemagogus mosquitoes.

Idris stated, “Many people don’t experience symptoms, but when they occur, the most common are fever, muscle pain with prominent back pain, headache, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.

“In most cases, symptoms disappear after three to four days.”

The NCDC boss said that a few individuals may have severe symptoms like high-grade fever, abdominal pain with vomiting, jaundice, and dark urine, caused by acute liver and kidney failure.

He further warned that death could occur within seven to 10 days in about half of cases with severe symptoms.

Idris asserted that the disease is preventable through a single dose of yellow fever vaccine, adding that the vaccine is safe, affordable and sufficient to grant sustained immunity and life-long protection.

According to the World Health Organisation, 34 countries in Africa and 13 in Central and South America are either endemic or have regions that are endemic to yellow fever.


In 2022, the WHO stated that about 160 million Nigerians are at risk of yellow fever.

Data from the NCDC reports that as of January 1 to April 30, about 589 suspected cases of yellow fever have been reported in 288 Local Government Areas, including the Federal Capital territory.

In an interview with PUNCH Healthwise on the matter, a public health expert, Dr Tuyi Mebawondu, warned that flooding provided a breeding ground for vector-borne diseases such as mosquitoes and a lot of parasites.

Dr Tuyi Mebawondu

He noted that during this period, drinking and surface water face massive contamination, adding that those who wade through floodwaters are at risk of being infected with diseases.

“Now, one of the challenges of flooding is the contamination of water, which can lead to cholera, the excessive breeding of mosquitoes as the water is receding, which can lead to more malaria and yellow fever cases.

“You are aware that yellow fever is arthropod-borne, and is caused by mosquitoes, the yellow fever virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes.

“Indeed, there are two varieties of yellow fever, there’s the jungle yellow fever, and there’s what we call the city yellow fever, in a way. Now, the mosquito, the Aedes aegypti, that causes the city yellow fever, actually bites during the day, unlike the one that causes malaria, which usually feeds during the night. So, if you see a mosquito biting you during the day, don’t just imagine that it’s nothing, it could be a mosquito that can carry yellow fever,” the public health expert said.

Mebawondu asserted that monkeys and other animals are reservoirs of yellow fever and when the mosquitoes feed on such animals, they pick the germs and transmit it to humans through biting.

The doctor urged people to get vaccinated against yellow fever, stating that the vaccine was long-lasting as against the cholera vaccine.

On his part, a Public Health specialist, Dr Babatunde Adewumi, stated that stagnant water around homes could increase the risk of breeding disease vectors that could cause yellow fever and malaria.

Dr Babatunde Adewumi

He advised on constant spraying of insecticides, oil, and other chemicals into stagnant water to prevent mosquito breeding.

Adewumi also advocated mass yellow fever vaccination and the provision of potable water to prevent the further spread of cholera.

“People should ensure that they sleep under mosquito nets and during the day, they can use topical mosquito repellent. Another thing they can do at this time is that people who have not been vaccinated against yellow fever should try to get the vaccine, especially at this point to prevent them from getting the disease.

“Also, environmental control is very important. The government should try as much as possible to get rid of stagnant water and refuse in the environment and ensure that those places are as dry and clean as they can. Before we get to this level, policies should have been made to ensure that these things should not happen by placing sanctions. It is very important that at this point we monitor and do things that will prevent the breeding of mosquitoes that can cause yellow fever,” the doctor said.

He further noted that although the signs and symptoms of yellow fever could resemble that of other fevers, the yellowness of the eyes and skin, severe weakness, bleeding, abdominal pain and muscle cramps were indicative of the disease.

Adewumi, however, noted that prevention during the rainy season was difficult due to poor sanitation levels and flooding, noting that some people could not but wade through dirty waters.

“It is not just cholera and yellow fever that can happen at this time. People can actually have things like schistosomiasis and other parasitic infections,” he added.

The public health specialist urged the government to ensure a proper drainage system to achieve a free flow of rainwater and prevent flooding.

He advised Nigerians to wash their hands regularly and refrain from defecating and pouring dirt into water bodies.

“A safe environment starts with you and me. Let’s ensure that dirt is not deliberately poured into the gutters, don’t burn things on the street, and don’t defecate anywhere and anyhow. The government should bring back the era of environmental officers to check these things before they happen to us.

“Also, there should be a good forecast for us that this is going to happen. We should plan for these things before they happen and we should not just be reactive,” the doctor further advised.

He urged the government to engage in mass insecticide distribution or pouring of larvicides into stagnant waters to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.



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