Dr Ruth Jane Aceng, Minister of Health

The Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Moyo District in West Nile region and Bulisa District in Hoima region, with three deaths already reported in West Nile and Western Uganda.

According to the Minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, in Moyo District, there are two confirmed cases of males aged 18 and 21 years. The two cases were dealing with cutting and trading timber between Uganda and South Sudan. They travelled from South Sudan to Moyo on January 2, 2020.

“Upon arrival, they got ill and on 3 January 2020, they were admitted at Logobo Health Center III in Moyo District. They were later referred to Moyo General Hospital with symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, abdominal and joint pain, confusion and unexplained bleeding.
Unfortunately, they later died in the isolation ward of Moyo General Hospital. Blood samples were withdrawn and sent for testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI). Results from UVRI confirmed Yellow Fever infection,” Minister Aceng said on Friday.

Aceng said  a 37-year old male and his 38-year old wife also got attacked by the disease. The husband was a cattle farmer trading in milk between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On 31 October 2019, he visited Buliisa Hospital with a headache, vomiting, and abdominal pain and received supportive treatment. He died on 4 November 2019 at Buliisa Hospital. At this time, there was little suspicion, however, his blood sample was withdrawn and sent to UVRI for testing,” she said.

She said On December 10, 2019, the sample tested positive for Yellow fever virus, prompting health teams to follow up with investigations. Samples, she said were collected from seven of his contacts, including his wife. “On 22 January 2020, the wife tested positive for Yellow Fever virus. The other 6 samples tested negative. She is alive and well.”

The minister said district health teams of Moyo and Buliisa have initiated investigations. In addition, she said, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have dispatched Rapid Response Teams to Moyo and Buliisa districts to support investigations, active search for cases, community mobilization and sensitisation.

The Ministry of Health has requested for the Yellow Fever vaccines from the International Coordination Group that manages Global Stockpiles of Yellow Fever and Meningitis vaccines. We anticipate that within the next two weeks, vaccines will be available and vaccination will commence in Moyo and Buliisa districts.

Appeal to GAVI and WHO
She said her ministry has also applied to GAVI and WHO for inclusion of the Yellow Fever vaccination into the routine immunisation schedule. “Having faced four outbreaks, Uganda now qualifies to introduce the Yellow Fever vaccine as a long term measure to prevent Yellow Fever outbreaks,” she said.

Yellow fever is a disease transmitted through bites of mosquitoes infected by the Yellow Fever virus (flavivirus).

Symptoms

Symptoms include high fever, headache, general body aches, fatigue, vomiting, blood in urine or stool and or yellow discolouration of skin and or eyes.

Prevention
The Ministry of Health appeals to the general public to observe the following:
All travellers in and out of the country MUST be vaccinated against Yellow Fever.

Travellers are urged to comply with this travel requirement to ensure that the risk of spread of yellow fever through international travel is minimized.

The population is advised to always sleep under a mosquito net. Report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility.

“The Ministry of Health re-echoes its call to the public to cooperate with officials during the investigation and response to the outbreaks. The Ministry would also like to re-assure Ugandans and all other residents that with the experience and expertise available in the country, the disease will be contained.
We appeal to the public to remain calm and vigilant and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility or call our toll-free number 0800-203-033,” she said.