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Yellow fever outbreak in region

Yellow fever

The Ministry of Health has said Uganda is free of the yellow fever outbreak ravaging the region, writes Nicole Namubiru.

Dr Anthony K. Mbonye, the director of Health Services at the Ministry of Health on Aug.16 told The Independent that no cases of the disease have been reported in the country and that the ministry is working to make sure that people remain safe by having The National Task Force Surveillence team pitching camp in areas where infections could occur. The ministry also reported a 96% vaccination coverage which is above the 80% coverage recommended by the WHO and that any yellow fever threat has been contained.

“We will continue to have people vaccinated of the disease and we are happy to announce that that country is free of yellow fever,” Mbonye said.

Ministry reacts as disease alerts for Angola, DR Congo

He was responding to a World Health Organisation report that listed Uganda among countries infested with the deadly disease yellow fever.  Other countries on the list were Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo which has witnessed a rise in reported cases. The WHO cautioned that people travelling in and out of the affected countries to ensure they are vaccinated of the disease before travelling.

Yellow fever disease is characterised by an infected person having a headache, muscle and joint pains, fever, vomiting, internal bleeding in severe cases.

Regarding the report that Uganda is yellow fever endemic, Mbonye said “even with one case of a disease like yellow fever, a country is announced to be infested with the epidemic.”

Yellow fever graphic

On Aug. 8, the Ministry issued a press release indicating that the country was confirmed to be endemic of the disease. As such, the ministry informed people in areas likely to be affected that they will be given free vaccination. The ministry, however, cautioned members of the public not to flood the areas where the free vaccines are being offered. This is intended to give people in likely to be affected areas an opportunity to be vaccinated of the disease as a priority.

Most accredited hospitals for the exercise have been charging about Shs16,000 while cases have been reported of hospitals to charge outrageous rates between Shs80, 000 and shs150,000. This has been due to the demands at the entry and exit points for the vaccination cards that show vaccination proof.

This is because two cases were reported to have been imported into Kenya. China too was reported to have an imported a case of yellow fever.

Following these reports, citizens of Uganda travelling in and out of the country have been advised to ensure that they are vaccinated before travel. Currently, no quarantine has been issued for yellow fever on Uganda.

Mbonye said in the past, his ministry successfully treated about 14 cases of the disease some of which were confirmed in Kalangala.

Symptoms of yellow fever were first seen on three individuals in Masaka district who were first reported to have hemorrhagic fever after they were found non- responsive to anti-malarials. The three cases all which were from the same family were presented with high-grade fever and convulsions among other signs which signs all pointed to hemorrhagic fever. Upon the death of the three, more tests were done by a Rapid Response Team (RRT) which found out that they had succumbed to yellow fever.

According to the ministry, no new people have been confirmed to be sick with the disease.

In Angola, the disease was first reported in December 2015. This was after a period of 28 years since it had last broken up in 1988 with 37 cases and 14 deaths. In the other highly infested country in the region, the DR Congo, the first reported cases of the disease were in March this year.


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