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Kenya on High Alert for Yellow Fever

FILE - Staff members of a teaching hospital receive the first vaccination treatment for yellow fever in El Geneina, West Darfur, Nov. 14, 2012.

Kenya has reported its first case of yellow fever in 25 years. The patient, who died while receiving treatment, is thought to have arrived five days ago from Angola, a country that is fighting to stop the outbreak of the disease.

The patient was diagnosed with the virus at an advanced stage, according to Dr. Jackson Kioko, acting director of the Kenya Medical Service.

"We screened him, and we found out that he had a yellow fever virus and, of course, he presented himself to us in three advanced stages when he had a renal and liver failure,” Kioko said. “He succumbed because he presented himself to the facility too late."

The yellow fever virus is transmitted by an infected mosquito and found in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America. Symptoms of yellow fever include headache, vomiting and fatigue.

Statistics from Angolan health officials show that more than 50 people have recently died of the virus, and 250 are infected.

The Angolan government has vaccinated half a million people against yellow fever, and health officials are targeting another million.

High alert

Kenya is on high alert at its entry points, Kioko says.

"We've sent an alert notice to our all health workers to all hospitals, public and private, to ensure that they are on high alert,” Kioko said. Consequently, “all people who have traveled to high-risk countries where Ebola have been reported … [are] put on the list of suspicion and we are able to investigate them thoroughly."

There is no specific treatment for yellow fever. In serious cases, patients are admitted to a hospital and given supportive care, such as pain relievers and intravenous fluids to ward of dehydration.