13 dead, as strange disease spreads
Publish Date: Nov 16, 2010
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By David Labeja and Sam Oboke

THIRTEEN people have been reported dead in Abim and Agago districts, following an outbreak of a strange disease in Abim.

Twenty cases have been reported in Abim district, out of whom eight have already died.

In neighouring Agago district, five cases have been reported in the sub counties of Omiya P’Chua and Paimol, which border Abim district.

Emmanuel Okech, an official from Abim district health Office said out of the twenty cases, eight have died, two quarantined and another ten have been discharged after their conditions improved.

According to Okech, the affected persons have high fever, vomit blood, pass bloody stools and also bleed from other openings like the nose and ears.

“The victims usually die between three and five days, and are suspected to be highly contagious,” Okech said.

Last week, a team from the World Health Organization and the Ministry of health went to Abim, and are investigating the disease. According to Okech, samples were taken to Uganda Virus Research Institute but there is still no clue as to what disease is affecting the people there.

“We were suspecting viral hemorrhagic infection, but results from Uganda Virus Research Institute have ruled out Ebola, Marburg and Lassa,” Okech said.

He said samples from the affected persons have now been flown to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, the District health Officer of Agago district Dr Emmanuel Otto announced that five people had died in Paimol and Omiya P’Chua, from infections similar to those reported in Abim.

Dr. Otto said he was also expecting a team of doctors from the World Health Organization and the Health Ministry in Agago, to go to the affected sub counties and conduct tests to ascertain the nature of the disease.

According to Emmanuel Okech, more than 10 percent of patients treated in Abim Hospital are from neighboring Agago district, raising suspicions that the five who died in Agago could have contracted the disease while they went for treatment in Abim Hospital.

Meanwhile authorities in Abim district have put up an isolation center for those suspected to have contracted the disease.

According to Abim district chairman Norman Ochero, the district health sector and its partners have pooled together resources to set up an isolation center in Abim Hospital and Morulem Health Centre.

“We have also advised people to maintain personal hygiene and to desist from handshakes,” said Ochero

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