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Congo, Rift Valley fevers confirmed in Uganda

Kampala. The Ministry of Health has confirmed sporadic outbreaks of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) and Rift Valley fever (RVF) in the country.

Health minister Jane Aceng made the confirmation yesterday at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, saying the fevers have already claimed lives in some districts.

“Since August, 2017 when suspected cases were reported, four cases of the CCHF have been confirmed and five cases of the RVF, the latest cases being reported on January 19 in Nakaseke and Buikwe [districts], respectively,” Dr Aceng said.

“Unfortunately, we have lost one case of CCHF from Nakaseke District and three cases of the RVF from Kiboga, Buikwe and Mityana districts,” she added at the press conference.

The confirmation is a sharp departure from previous denials by the Health ministry a fortnight ago, when Nakaseke and Luwero leaders accused them of concealing the viral outbreaks.

“We are frustrated that government has not come out with an official position on the CCHF disease, including extending support to sensitise the public. For the second time in four months, we have had the disease with the latest involving a nine-year-old now under isolation at Kiwoko Hospital,” the Nakaseke District Council chairperson, Mr Ignatius Kiwanuka Koomu, said then.

Dr Aceng said a team of experts has already been dispatched to tackle the outbreaks, and spraying of ticks and biting insects, some of the key transmitters of the fevers, has started in the cattle corridor of Nakaseke, Sembabule, Kyegegwa, Lyantonde, Mubende, and Gomba districts.

CCHF and RVF, according to WHO, can be transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.

Dr Yonas Tegegn, the WHO representative to Uganda, said he is optimistic the outbreaks will be managed owing to the country’s “tremendous capacity in responding to outbreaks and it has also a strong surveillance system.”

Signs. Those infected with the virus present with symptoms such as muscle ache, dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light), according to WHO. The two fevers almost have similar symptoms and means of transmission.

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