The ministry of Health last week announced an outbreak of Hepatitis E in Napak, following confirmatory tests at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI).
A statement from the ministry's director general of health services, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, reported that 344 cases of the infection had been confirmed in the area. Aceng reported that the infection had already claimed 13 lives, including 10 pregnant women.
She explained that the outbreak, confirmed last Tuesday, is attributed to unsafe water sources like rivers and ponds, poor sanitation and hygiene and low latrine coverage in the district. Hepatitis E is found in the stool of infected individuals and is spread by consuming drinks or foods that have been contaminated with feaces.
Infections were reported in Napak's seven sub-counties, although it was reportedly concentrated in the three sub-counties of Lokopo, Lorengechora and Matany.
"There have been isolated cases that have been reported from neighbouring districts of Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Katakwi and Kotido.
"Karamoja sub-region is prone to this disease because of its low latrine coverage and lack of safe drinking water," Aceng said.
The ministry of Health in collaboration with the partners and the district taskforce has developed a comprehensive response plan to contain the outbreak. The national taskforce has been activated to support the district response team and will again visit the affected districts. Continuous testing of samples from suspected cases is ongoing. Monitoring of the suspected cases in all the Karamoja districts has been initiated by the taskforce.
Aceng added that the ministry had dispatched logistics and medical supplies to Matany hospital to respond to the outbreak. "Currently, the hospital is admitting only those with severe conditions," she added.
Aceng also clarified that there was no outbreak of Yellow Fever in Napak district as earlier reported. A risk assessment by the ministry's National Rapid Response team had concluded that it was a false alarm, she said.