9 October 2018

Uganda: Measles Outbreak Hits Amuru, Omoro Districts

Amuru District health officials have confirmed a measles outbreak in the area.

According to the secretary for health and education, Mr Apollo Kagwa Okello, so far five children have tested positive in just one week.

Mr Okello on Sunday said the affected children are all residents of Pawel Parish in Atiak Sub-county and have been admitted in isolation to St Mary's Hospital Lacor in Gulu District.

"We are trying all our best at the moment to sensitise the community to report any suspected cases of measles so that they can be isolated to avoid further spread of the disease," he said.

He said 17 other suspected cases have been reported in Gira Gira and Akuru-Kwe villages in Lamogi Sub-county of Amuru.

According to the district health officials, children who tested positive for the disease are within the age bracket of two-11 year.

Mr Okello said they have alerted Ministry of Health about the outbreak and are waiting for its intervention.

He, however, blamed the outbreak on the influx and unregulated movement of South Sudan refugees living in the area.

"We are hosting many South Sudanese whose children are not immunised. They also have tendencies of refusing their children to be immunised which increases risk of spreading of communicable diseases in the community," Mr Okello said.

Meanwhile in Omoro District, 15 children showing suspected symptoms of measles have been isolated in various health facilities. The cases were reported in Koro, Odek and Lalogi Sub-counties last week.

The Omoro District health officer, Mr Robert Ongom, said blood samples from the children have already been taken to Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for testing.

"We have one child who is admitted to Lalogi Health Centre IV while 14 others have been referred to St Mary's Hospital Lacor. We had a big number of children who had earlier presented symptoms of measles but tested negative and were sent back home," Mr Ongom told Daily Monitor on Sunday.

Health Ministry spokesperson, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyona, said they are aware of the outbreak and that they are making necessary arrangements to intensify awareness and immunisation of children.

Statistics

In March, 13 children were admitted to Atiak Health Centre III after showing symptoms of measles at Elegu Border Post in Atiak Sub-county.

In May, the Health Ministry declared an outbreak of measles in 26 districts among them Amuru District. An estimated 2.6 million people, mostly children, annually die from measles, according to the World Health Organisation.

About measles

Signs. Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus and can spread through contact with infected person fluids or air. An infected person can release the infection into the air when they cough or sneeze. The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts 4 to 7 days.

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