Keiji Fukuda (R), Margaret Chan - WHO.jpg
Photograph: EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo should speed up yellow fever mass vaccinations and should get better at spotting new cases to prevent the outbreak from spiralling out of control, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

The Geneva-based UN agency also said that all travellers to and from these two countries should get immunized.

The UN health organization decided that the outbreak in both countries does not constitute a global health emergency at this point, as more and more people going in and out of Angola's capital Luanda are being vaccinated, WHO's emergencies chief Bruce Aylward said.

Luanda has been at the centre of the outbreak that started late last year, resulting in 2,300 suspected infections and some 300 deaths so far in Angola.

"This can be a devastating disease with a high mortality rate and a rapid spread in urban areas," Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

The current outbreak "is serious and of great concern and requires intensified control measures," WHO said in a statement.

Mosquitoes transmit the virus between humans, but it can be exported abroad by travellers infected with the flu-like disease.

In this way, yellow fever has spread from Angola to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where there were less than 50 cases as of last week.

A few cases have also been exported to Kenya and China.

WHO is working with pharmaceutical companies to boost the emergency stockpile of yellow fever vaccines, from currently 5 million doses to up to 18 million within a few months.

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