The Ministry of Health has Friday confirmed there is an outbreak of Yellow Fever, an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, in the West Nile district of Moyo and Buliisa in Bunyoro.
Dr. Aceng Jane Ruth, the Minister of Health, said four cases have so far been confirmed in the two districts out of which two are in Moyo where both victims are males aged 18 and 21 years.
“The two cases were dealing with cutting and trading timber between Uganda and South Sudan. On January 2, 2020, the two cases travelled from South Sudan to Moyo. Upon arrival, they got ill and on January 3, they were admitted at Logobo Health Center III in Moyo District,” explains the Minister in a statement.
“They were later referred to Moyo General Hospital with symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, headache, abdominal and joint pain, confusion and unexplained bleeding,” she added.
“Unfortunately, they later died in the isolation ward of Moyo General Hospital. Blood samples were withdrawn and sent for testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). Results from UVRI confirmed Yellow Fever infection,” adds Aceng.
For the case of Buliisa, there are also two confirmed cases including a 37-year-old male and his 38-year-old wife.
The husband who was a cattle farmer trading in milk between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) visited Buliisa Hospital on October 31 last year with a headache, vomiting, and abdominal pain and received supportive treatment, according to the Ministry.
“He died on November 4, 2019 at Buliisa Hospital. At this time, there was little suspicion, however, his blood sample was withdrawn and sent to UVRI for testing. On December 10, 2019, the sample tested positive for Yellow fever virus,” says Aceng.
“This prompted our teams to follow up with investigations, samples were collected from seven of his contacts, including his wife. On January 22, 2020, the wife tested positive for Yellow Fever virus. The other 6 samples tested negative. She is alive and well,” she adds.
The minister explains that the district health teams of Moyo and Buliisa have since initiated investigations and the the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have dispatched Rapid Response Teams to Moyo and Buliisa Districts to support which includes investigations, active search for cases, community mobilization and sensitization.
“The Ministry of Health has requested for the Yellow Fever vaccines from the International Coordination Group that manages Global Stockpiles of Yellow Fever and Meningitis vaccines. We anticipate that within the next two weeks, vaccines will be available and vaccination will commence in Moyo and Buliisa districts,” Aceng says.
She adds that the Ministry of Health has also applied to GAVI and World Health Organisation for inclusion of the Yellow Fever vaccination into the routine immunisation schedule.
“Having faced 4 outbreaks, Uganda now qualifies to introduce the Yellow Fever vaccine as a long term measure to prevent Yellow Fever outbreaks,” says the minister.
Some of the symptoms of yellow fever include high fever, headache, general body aches, fatigue, vomiting, blood in urine or stool and or yellow discolouration of skin and or eyes.
Aceng says the general public ought to observe that all travellers in and out of the country must be vaccinated against Yellow Fever and that travellers comply with this travel requirement to ensure that the risk of spread of yellow fever through international travel is minimized.
She also advises the public to always sleep under a mosquito net as well as reporting any suspected cases of yellow fever to the nearest health facility.