A community-level investigation following ayellowfevervirusoutbreak inSouthOmo Zone, South-West Ethiopia

January 2019
Ranya Mulchandani, Fekadu Massebo, Fekadu Bocho, Claire L. Jeffries, Thomas Walker and Louisa A. Messenger

ABSTRACT

Background: Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, yellow fever virus (YFV) remains an important public health problem across Africa and South America due to its high case-fatality rate. This study investigated the historical epidemiology and contemporary entomological and social determinants of a YFV outbreak in South Omo Zone (SOZ), Ethiopia. Methods: A YFV outbreak occurred in SOZ, Ethiopia in 2012–2014. Historical epidemiological data were retrieved from the SOZ Health Department and analyzed. Entomological sampling was undertaken in 2017, including mosquito species identification and molecular screening for arboviruses to understand mosquito habitat distribution, and finally current knowledge, attitudes and preventative practices within the affected communities were assessed.

Results: FromOctober2012toMarch2014,165suspectedcasesand62deathswere reported, principally in rural areas of South Ari region (83.6%). The majority of patients were 15–44 years old (75.8%) and most case deaths were males (76%). Between June and August 2017, 688 containers were sampled across 180 households to identify key breeding sites for Aedes mosquitoes. Ensete ventricosum (“false banana”) and clay pots outside the home were the most productive natural and artificial breeding sites, respectively. Entomological risk indices classified most sites as “high risk” for future outbreaks under current World Health Organization criteria. Adult mosquitoes in houses were identified as members of the Aedes simpsoni complex but no YFV or other arboviruses were detected by PCR. The majority of community members had heard of YFV, however few activities were undertaken to actively reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Discussion: Study results highlight the potential role vector control could play in mitigating local disease transmission and emphasize the urgent need to strengthen disease surveillance systems and in-country laboratory capacity to facilitate more rapid responses to future YFV outbreaks.