October 23, 2012
Thirty-four people who are suspected to have had contact with the five killed by the deadly Marburg virus in Kabale district are being monitored by a team from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.
The ministry spokesperson, Rukia Nakamatte, on Monday said Obed Ntegyerize, a member of the deceased’s family and another man from Kamugangu sub-county are being treated at an isolation centre at Rushoroza Health Centre III in Kabale. This was after they tested positive for the virus that causes heamoregic fever.
Nakamatte explained that another team had been dispatched to Rukungiri district to monitor and trace people who are suspected to have had contact with Ntegyerize. Ntegyerize was found in a church in Rukungiri.
The 32-year-old Ntegyerize, who was under the illusion that his five family members in Kiyonjo parish in Kitumba sub-county had been killed by witchcraft, fled to Rukungiri to be prayed for.
Meanwhile, the district leadership has temporarily stopped leaders of the church where Ntegerize was found from conducting services.
Nakamatte said the 34 people, who include children, teachers and religious leaders, would be monitored from their homes on a daily basis.
She added that these people had not been quarantined at their homes, but been advised to report to health officials in case they developed symptoms of the disease.
She said the Red Cross and World Health Organisation had provided mattresses and personal protective gears for medical officers manning the isolation centre.
Meanwhile, the woman who tested positive for Marburg remains in a stable condition in an isolation room at Mulago Hospital. She is related to the five people who succumbed to the disease in Kabale two weeks ago.
Mulago authorities are also monitoring one nurse and two doctors who handled Twinomujuni as she bled after she suffered a miscarriage. At the time, it was not known that she had contracted the Marburg disease.
Dr. Jane Aceng, the director general of health services, in a statement issued yesterday, urged the people to avoid public gatherings and direct contact with body fluids of people suffering from the highly infectious viral hemorrhagic fever.
She said apart from the experts who have been dispatched to the district to support both clinical and public health investigations, the national taskforce has reactivated its rapid response committees to handle any emergences.
Marburg disease that is caused by a virus, easily spreads through direct contact with wounds, body fluids like blood, saliva, vomitus, stool and urine of an infected person.
A person suffering from Marburg presents symptoms such as high fever, vomiting blood, joint and muscle pains and bleeding through the body openings like eyes, nose, gums, ears, anus and the skin.
It is a highly contagious disease that kills in a short time but can easily be prevented.
“The Ministry of Health calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being taken to control the situation.
“For more information and reports of any cases, please contact the ministry hotline on +256750996034,” Aceng added.
In Kabale, people remain in a state of panic. The district chairman, Patrick Besigye, said they have suspended a graduation ceremony at Kabale University that was slated to take place at the weekend and the district independence celebrations set for October 31.
District leaders in Kabale and the education ministry officials suspended all public functions in an effort to check the spread of the virus.
The meeting between the district leaders and the ministry officials held at Kabale district headquarters yesterday resolved that all gatherings in the district be called off and locals who had contacts with the victims of the disease be monitored for a minimum of nine days.
Besigye urged the population to abide by the health officials advice which discourages some of the burial rituals during the funerals of marburg victims
He cited the case of the residents of Rwabirondo village who on Sunday insisted that the health workers should not burn the mattresses which had been used by relatives who succumbed to the virus.