After initial denials, officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Health have confirmed the twin outbreak of Crimean-Congo fever and Rift Valley Fever in cattle corridor districts, and announced stronger control measures.
The diseases have claimed at least five people, according to the ministry.
“Spraying of ticks and biting insects is already ongoing in selected districts while an assessment of other districts is in the pipeline,” said Health Minister Dr Jane Aceng.
The ministry was also disseminating information pamphlets — translated into local languages — on the two diseases, as part of efforts to sensitise people in the affected districts. The districts are Kiboga, Mityana, Buikwe, Nakaseke, Sembabule, Kyegegwa, Lyantonde, Mubende and Gomba.
Uganda first reported an outbreak of the two diseases in August last year, with four cases so far confirmed of the Crimean-Congo fever. One person has died from the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, five cases of the Rift Valley Fever have also been confirmed, leading to at least three deaths. The latest death occurred on January 19.
Cows, camels, goats and sheep act as hosts for the virus that causes both ailments. Rift Valley Fever primarily affects cows, sheep, goats and camels, but could also afflict humans.
While animals can be vaccinated against RVF to prevent spreading the infection, there is no vaccine against Crimean-Congo fever.
According to the World Health Organisation, most human infections result from direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals.
Crimean-Congo fever virus is transmitted from ticks and livestock. Human-to-human transmission occurs from close contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected persons.
The Great Lakes region, especially Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan is considered most at risk for haemorrhagic fever epidemics including Ebola, Marburg and the Crimean-Congo fever.
Symptoms, include high fever, severe headache, loss of memory, loss of sight, convulsions, vomiting and passing of blood in stool.