New Vision (Kampala)

28 January 2013

Uganda: Ministry Investigates Mubende Disease

The health ministry has dispersed a team of experts to Mubende district after a strange infectious disease killed six people and left 30 others affected in a space of three weeks.

Medical officers say the disease manifests in the form of excessive heat around the chest and itching in the neck and within a few hours, the patient starts vomiting and bleeding through the nose and mouth. It also causes diarrhoea and fever.

Earlier this month when it had just broken out, the disease was suspected to be ebola as it claimed three lives at Mubende Hospital within two days.

Residents attributed it to witchcraft and a few weeks ago, they hired a traditional healer to 'cleanse' the village of would-be witches.

However, Dr. Wilson Mubiru, the district health officer, ruled out witchcraft and said they were yet to receive results from blood samples sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe.

"We are still investigating what exactly this disease is and what its cause could be. Nothing has been confirmed yet," Mubiru said while dismissing claims of ebola.

The team, which comprises experts from Mulago, the World Health Organisation and other health agencies was led by the ministry's head of surveillance, Dr. Isa Makumbi. The group has pitched camp in Mubende since last Thursday.

The experts visited areas of Kiganda and Kassanda sub-counties last week, where dozens of residents are said to be infected with the peculiar disease.

Dr. Bosco Ssendikadiwa, the Mubende district assistant health officer, said the exercise was challenging because the residents were unco-operative.

Zziwa Kiruba, the district council secretary for health said they had resolved to sensitise the people. The mass sensitisation campaign is yet to kick off.

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