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Mbale, Soroti on high alert after Black Water Syndrome cases rise

Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The number of children presenting with black water syndrome is on the rise in Mbala and Soroti districts, health authorities have revealed. Blackwater fever syndrome is a complication or manifestation that is common among children and adults who suffer from severe malaria and are not treated for the condition.

The condition occurs when there’s a massive breakdown of red blood cells in the blood and hemoglobin is passed in the urine. Children with the condition need to be treated intensively with antimalarials and several blood transfusions.

According to findings from researchers, a 42 percent and 25 percent surge has been noted in Mbale and Soroti districts. The findings were shared at a meeting attended by the Ministry of Health and pediatrics from regional hospitals.

Dr. Ruth Namazi, a pediatrician and malaria specialist says that while the disease is not in the country, its re-occurrence among children is worrying. According to her, the syndrome had disappeared but is making a come back.

Dr. Namazi, says that many children with the condition become anemic while others develop acute kidney injury. The kidneys suddenly stop filtering urine from the blood.

According to the health ministry, in the last three years, the cases have been on the rise, especially in the East where there are many swamps and big water bodies.

Mbale, Manafwa, Sironko, Bududa, Namisindwa Pallisa, Amolatar, Iganga, Busembatyy, Soroti, Lira, and Apac are reporting the highest figures. In addition, Dr. Richard Idro, a pediatrician at Mulago National Referral Hospital, says that the change in mosquito biting patterns is also leading to an increase in cases.

“Information that the ministry of health is releasing shows that there has been a change in mosquito-biting patterns. Previously, most biting occurred at night after 6 pm but now some biting takes place during the day and early morning hours. So the use of a mosquito net at night might not be helpful,” he said.

Dr. Richard Idro, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, College of Health Sciences (CHS) says it’s important that the country controls Malaria. “These cases are linked to malaria. If the transmission of malaria in these regions is reduced, then fewer people will present with the condition,” he adds.

Records from the MOH show that the disease was first reported in 2003 and has since killed over 500 people. The most recent outbreak occurred in Manafwa in 2017 where 14 people succumbed to it before health authorities could identify it. The disease was first reported as a strange disease killing people.

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