By Roch Bouka

BRAZZAVILLE (Reuters) – Congo Republic will launch a country-wide vaccination campaign to control an outbreak of yellow fever near the border with the Angolan enclave of Cabinda, the health ministry said on Friday.

Earlier this week, the authorities said over 180 suspected cases and one confirmed case of the sometimes deadly mosquito-borne virus had been identified this year, many in the western commercial hub of Pointe Noire.

“Congo (Republic) declared a yellow fever epidemic at Pointe Noire on Aug. 24,” the ministry said in a statement.

In response, it said, “the health and population ministry will organize, in collaboration with partners, a national vaccination campaign”.

It did not specify when the campaign would begin. The vaccinations will be free of charge.

Only children under nine months, pregnant women and mothers breastfeeding infants under six months will not be vaccinated, the statement added.

No deaths have yet been reported in the outbreak.

The disease causes fever, body aches and nausea and can quickly spread in areas with large unvaccinated populations.

A major outbreak in 2016 in Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo killed more than 400 people, and was believed to have infected thousands more before it was brought under control through an extensive vaccination campaign.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Aaron Ross and Andrew Bolton)