Kabale hit by outbreak of Rift Valley Fever

| A butcher and 19-year-old student
in a town 336km from the Ugandan
capital have contracted Rift Valley
Fever. This is the first time ever
the disease is reported in humans
or animals in Uganda.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, Director General of
Health Services in Uganda’s Ministry of
Health confirmed the two cases in
Kabale in western Uganda, adding that
three other suspect cases have been
identified.

Rift Valley Fever is an acute, fever
causing viral disease that affects
domestic animals (such as cattle, sheep,
goats and buffalo, camels) and humans.

“The disease has never been reported
in humans and animals in Uganda before
this outbreak. Prevention and control of
this disease in animals relies on
maintaining a strong surveillance system.

In case of outbreaks, appropriate
biosecurity and biosafety measures
must be exercised,” Aceng said.
The virus was first identified in 1931
during an investigation into an epidemic
among sheep on a farm in the Rift Valley
of Kenya.

Since then, outbreaks have been
reported in sub-Saharan and North
Africa. In 1997-98, a major outbreak
occurred in Kenya, Somalia and Tanzania
and in September 2000, RVF cases were
confirmed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen,
marking the first reported occurrence
of the disease outside the African
continent and raising concerns that it
could extend to other parts of Asia and
Europe.

Rift Valley Fever most commonly
associated with mosquito-borne
epidemics during years of unusually
heavy rainfalls. A person suffering from
Rift Valley Fever may have either no
symptoms or a mild illness associated
with fever and liver abnormalities.

However, in some patients, the illness can
progress to haemorrhagic fever,
inflammation of the brain which can lead
to headaches, coma or seizures or eye
disease.

The two cased in Kabale were isolated
after laboratory tests done at the
Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI)
which confirmed two samples positive of
this infectious viral haemorrhagic fever.

According to the Ministry of Health, the
first confirmed case is 45-year old
butcher from Kabale town council. He
reported to Kabale Regional Referral
Hospital on March 4th and was later
referred to Mbarara Regional Referral
Hospital for a blood transfusion. He is
currently admitted in an isolation ward at
Mbarara but improving steadily.

The second confirmed case is of a 19-
year-old student from Kabale town who
had contact with livestock and other
domestic animals at their family home. He
reported to Kabale Regional Referral
Hospital on March 3rd 2016 with signs of
a Viral Fever. He is currently admitted at
the hospital isolation ward. Investigations
indicate that the two cases do not have
any epidemiologic link.

Approximately 1% of people that become
infected with the Rift Valley Fever die of
the disease.
The disease is transmitted from animals
to humans through close contact with
infected animals and their products
such as milk, meat and body fluids.
Animals become infected with the
disease through the bites of infected
mosquitoes. Other insects that can
transmit the disease are ticks and biting
midges.

A Multi-sectoral National Task Force
has been set up to coordinate all
efforts towards the control and
management of the outbreak under the
One Health Approach, according to Acen.
She said the task force is composed of
officials from the Ministries of; Health;
Agriculture, Animal Industry and
Fisheries; Water and Environment;
Uganda Wildlife Authority together with
development partners; the World Health
Organization and the US Centers for
Disease Control and other implementing
partners.

The general public have been asked to
observe the following protective
measures;
• Report any suspected RVF patient to
a nearby health facility
• Report any suspected sick animals to
the nearest veterinary or local
authority
• Avoid direct contact with body fluids of
animals suspected to be suffering from
RVF by using protective materials like
gloves.
• Avoid eating dead animals or animals
not certified by veterinarians

The Independent (Kampala)

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