As globe-threatening yellow fever epidemic explodes in Congo, people ask ‘where is the vaccine?’
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
KINSHASA, Congo — Here in Kinshasa, they’re using bug spray to repel a pandemic.
At first glance, it looks like a bloody ambush on civilians: Dozens in uniform are storming into a bustling marketplace bearing on their shoulders what look like bazookas.
People are screaming, scrambling in every direction, their noses and mouths covered as they drag their children by their hands. Those in uniform chuckle, shaking their heads, smirking; they hiss into megaphones: “We told you we were coming.”
This is vector control in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo.
The procedure daubs communities in insecticide to fumigate homes and public spaces that breedAedes aegypti, the mosquito carrying yellow fever. In high quantities, the insecticide is a neurotoxin, and the health workers lament that marketplace invasions seem most petrifying for locals because “there’s nowhere for people to hide.”
The method, a poor alternative to vaccination, is being implemented in the fight against central Africa’s yellow fever outbreak, which has surpassed 6,100 suspected cases in Angola and Congo, killing at least 400 without slowing.
- Health Care