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Yellow fever outbreak in Sudan killing untold hundreds

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

An outbreak of yellow fever is responsible for almost 100 deaths in the troubled Darfur province in Sudan, Africa. Exacerbating the outbreak is an ongoing, extensive conflict, which has prevented access to health care for the sick.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN (Catholic Online) - According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Sudan's Health Ministry, there are 329 suspected cases of the disease and likely many more unreported. At least 97 people have died. The outbreak has spread across the region, but seems most prevalent in Darfur.

Nearly half of the victims are young people between the ages of 15 and 30. Another twenty-five percent of the victims are under age 5.

Making the situation worse is a chronic conflict between Christian and minority groups who have rebelled against the Islamic state's government. Conflict in the region is believed to have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, although the government claims the death toll is closer to 10,000.

The constant fighting has limited access to health care for hundreds of thousands of people, and made it difficult for aid organizations such as the WHO to operate in the region. Civilians, particularly those in minority groups in rebellion against the government, also have a difficult time accessing services on their own.

The International Criminal Court blames the country's President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir for the conditions associated with the conflict and has issued a warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges. Al-Bashir denies that he has committed any crimes against his people.

Meanwhile, yellow fever continues to sweep through the region. The mosquito-borne hemorrhagic fever has a vaccine, but this is difficult to distribute int he region leaving millions vulnerable. In severe cases, victims may develop internal bleeding, organ failure, and die.

There is no treatment for the disease beyond dialysis, blood transfusions, and IV fluids, all of which are difficult to obtain in Darfur.

The official death tolls is expected to rise for some time to come.

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