24 August 2017

Uganda On Viral Haemorrhagic Fever Alert

Photo: G. Hampton/WHO
(file photo)

Kampala — Uganda has been placed on high alert as the Ministry of Health investigates and monitors suspected cases of the deadly Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in the central districts of Kiboga and Nakaseke.

On August 20, the ministry received blood samples of two patients from Kiboga and Nakaseke hospital suspected Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

According to an August 21 statement signed by the acting Director General, health services Dr Anthony Mbonye, the two victims tested positive to Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever [CCFH].

The Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a common disease among humans and animals caused by caused by a tick-borne virus (Nairovirus); the virus causes severe viral haemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10-40%.

Dr Mbonye says that the general supportive care with treatment of symptoms is the main approach to managing CCFH among humans.

The statement warns that while its symptoms do not appear in the infected animal, it appears in a very dangerous way in human beings.

"You are required to work with the office of the District Veterinary Officer to strengthen measures against CCHF control in animals, implement interventions to reduce the risk of CCHF infections among humans and interventions to control CCFH in health care settings.

You are also reminded to immediately report and investigate any CCFH suspected cases in your district," reads the statement in part signed by Dr Mbonye.

Reports from Ministry of Health indicate that CCHF virus is transmitted to people either by tick bites or through contact with infected animal blood or tissues during and immediately after slaughter.

According to Ministry of health, majority of cases have occurred in people involved in the livestock industry, such as agricultural workers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians and that human-to-human transmission occurs from close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

Reports indicate that hospital-acquired infections can also occur due to improper sterilization of medical equipment, reuse of needles and contamination of medical supplies.

Records indicate that since 2000, Uganda has experienced repeated outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF). Ebola VHF outbreak occurred in the districts of Gulu in 2000, Bundibugyo, 2007, Luwero, 2011, Kibaale in July 2012, Luwero in November 2012. Marburg VHF was earlier reported in Ibanda in 2007. More recently in 2012, two outbreaks of Marburg VHF have occurred in Ibanda and Kabale districts.

Signs and symptoms of CCHF

Sudden, with fever, myalgia, (muscle ache), dizziness, neck pain and stiffness, backache, headache, sore eyes and photophobia (sensitivity to light), nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and sore throat early on, followed by sharp mood swings and confusion.

After two to four days, the agitation may be replaced by sleepiness, depression and lassitude, and the abdominal pain may localize to the upper right quadrant, with detectable hepatomegaly (liver enlargement).


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