14 July 2009

Uganda: Hepatitis E Deaths, Infections Increase

Kitgum — Two more people at the close of last week died of the Hepatitis E virus in Kitgum District, the weekly surveillance report has revealed.

The development brings the cumulative number of deaths to 162 since the epidemic broke out in October 2007. The District Surveillance Officer, Mr Obote M. Odwar told Daily Monitor yesterday that 47 people acquired Hepatitis E last week compared to 24 in the previous week.

"The total number of cases of Hepatitis E virus comes to 10,243 since the onset of the epidemic in October 2007 and of the established deaths, 72 per cent are females," Mr Odwar said. He added: "The most affected age group is that of between 20-24 years and of all the registered cases, 62 per cent are females." Hardly a week ago, the government and the World Health Organisation launched a Shs10 billion programme to bring the epidemic to an end but this has not helped matters.

The WHO that has been supporting the district's Hepatitis E taskforce, in its recent statements said there is a drastic decline in the infection rate in Kitgum, a report the authorities in the district dispute.

The report infact reveals that there was a 96 per cent increase of newly-registered cases during the week compared to 33 per cent in the previous week. Sub-counties that registered the highest number of new cases are Lukung (8), Mucwini (6), Padibe West, Palabek Gem and Kitgum Matidi with 5 new cases each.

Mr John Odur, a resident of Kitgum Matidi, one of the sub-counties still prone to the disease, attributes the persistence of the epidemic to negligence. "The communities have turned a deaf ear to health messages and the leaders have also become relaxed in its fight," Mr Odur observed. Hepatitis E is an acute viral disease that can cause liver failure.

The virus is transmitted to humans through consumption of drink or food contaminated with faecal matter. It can kill within a week if not controlled in time.

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