A community-level investigation following a yellow fever virus outbreak in South Omo Zone, South-West Ethiopia

11 May 2018
Mulchandani R, Massebo F, Bocho F, Jeffries CL, Walker T, Messenger LA,

Background A yellow fever (YF) outbreak occurred in South Omo Zone, Ethiopia in 2012-2014. This study aimed to analyse historical epidemiological data, to assess the risk for future YF outbreaks through entomological surveillance, including mosquito species identification and molecular screening for arboviruses, and finally to determine the knowledge, attitudes and current preventative practices within the affected communities. Methodology/Principal Findings From October 2012 to March 2014, 165 cases and 62 deaths were reported, principally in rural areas of South Ari region (83.6%), south-west Ethiopia. The majority of patients were 15-44 years old (74.5%) and most case deaths were males (76%). Between June and August 2017, 688 containers were sampled from across 177 households to identify key breeding sites for Aedes mosquitoes. Ensete ventricosum ("false banana") was identified as the primary natural breeding site, and clay pots outside the home as the most productive artificial breeding site. Entomological risk indices from the majority of sites were classified as "high risk" for future outbreaks under current World Health Organization criteria. Adult trapping resulted in the identification of members of the Aedes simpsoni complex in and around households. Screening of adult females revealed no detection of yellow fever virus (YFV) or other arboviruses. 88% of 177 participants had heard of YF, however many participants easily confused transmission and symptoms of YF with malaria, which is also endemic in the area. Conclusions/Significance Study results emphasise the need for further entomological studies to improve our understanding of local vector species and transmission dynamics. Disease surveillance systems and in-country laboratory capacity also need to be strengthened to facilitate more rapid responses to future YF outbreaks.