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UGANDA: Anthrax outbreak confirmed in Arua

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19 infected as anthrax hits Arua, 1 dead

The disease is generally regarded as being non-contagious. Courtesy photo

UGANDA, ARUA (DAILY MONITOR) – Nineteen people have so far been infected following the outbreak of the deadly anthrax in Arua District.

The disease was first reported in Rhino Camp refugee settlement and one has so far died since the outbreak was confirmed by the Uganda Virus Research Institute last month.

The district veterinary officer, Dr Willy Nguma, said: “It is unfortunate that the ministry and other partners have been silent on this outbreak. The farmers do not have the drugs for vaccinating their animals. And so far there is one more serious case of human infection where the person is undergoing treatment at Pawor Health Centre.”

The disease has now spread to Odupi and Pawor sub-counties and there is fear that it will spread to Ogoko, Omugo, Bileafe, Uriama and Okollo sub-counties due to uncontrolled movement of animals.

Dr Nguma said the disease has also killed 60 head of cattle in Pawor, about 20 in Odupi and more than 30 in Rhino Camp Sub-county.

“In Pawor, the farmers thought it was the normal animal disease not until those who handled the meat from the carcasses started developing blisters on their hands and heads,” he added.
The Arua refugee desk officer, Mr Solomon Osakan, confirmed that the disease had affected some refugees.

“We have two registered cases of infection on the refugees. But we are currently conducting education in the settlement camps, asking the refugees not to eat dead meat from animals. They should instead burry the carcasses deeply in order to avoid further spread,” he said.

Mr Osakan said the disease could have spread to other sub-counties due to the movement of the Balalo who were evicted out of the sub-counties with their animals.
The blood samples of the new infections have been sent to the government laboratory in Entebbe.

The RDC, Mr Peter Debele, said: “What I know is that it has not yet reached the level of disaster. But this was discussed during one of the meetings about sensitisation.”

Infection. According to the World Health Organisation, humans generally acquire the disease directly or indirectly from infected animals, or occupational exposure to infected or contaminated animal products. Control in livestock is, therefore, key to reduced incidence. The disease is generally regarded as being non-contagious. Records of person-to-person spread exist but are rare.

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