Sleeping Sickness Hits Busia
Hundreds of locals in the sub-counties of Busitema and Buteba in Busia District are living in fear, following an outbreak of Sleeping Sickness.
The disease is spread by tsetseflies. The outbreak has reportedly left close to six people admitted in LIRI Hospital, where they are being treated.
Busia District vector control officer Robert Mulimba confirmed the outbreak of sleeping sickness, Jan. 10.
He told The Monitor that currently, two patients are being treated at LIRI Hospital in Tororo, after their blood samples were tested and found to be having the disease.
Mulimba identified the patients as Aida Namusana a resident of Habuleke Village and Auma Janet a resident of Shyanyonja Village.
He revealed that about ten patients have been treated and discharged since 2000.
5 Million Face Risk of Sleeping Sickness
Tsetse flies have spread to 70 percent of the country, putting 5.1 million people at a risk of catching sleeping sickness.
This was revealed yesterday by the Minister of State for Fisheries, Ms Mary Mugyenyi. She was opening a one-day sensitisation workshop for district leaders at Hotel Africana in Kampala.
She said the tsetse flies and the diseases they cause are spreading to areas that were formerly free.
In a speech read for her by Mr Lawrence Semakula, the director of animal resources, Ms Mugyenyi said the disease is fatal if it is untreated and causes abortions, sterility and other gynaecological problems among women.
Ms Mugyenyi said sleeping sickness and nagana (the strain which affects cattle) were spreading to Kumi, Soroti and Kaberamaido districts where they had not been known before.
She said 40 percent of cattle in Uganda risk catching nagana. She said government is fighting the disease, but it is being hampered by lack of enough money.
A presentation from the Ministry of Health shows that saving a sleeping sickness patient costs at least $209 (about Shs 400,000).
The presentation showed that sleeping sickness and nagana are common in West Nile region and Mukono, Kayunga, Jinja, Mayuge, Bugiri, Tororo, Mbale and Pallisa districts.
Adjumani district recorded 90 cases of sleeping sickness last year.
Stakeholders at the workshop urged government to take the tsetse fly problem seriously.
Sleeping Sickness Epidemic Worries Ministry of Health
An official from the Ministry of Health has expressed fear over the increasing prevalence of sleeping sickness in the northern and southeastern Uganda.
Sleeping sickness affects human beings and is caused by tsetse flies. Its equivalent in animals is called Nagana.
"The tsetse flies are moving towards each other and are expected to converge soon. If they meet we stand a risk of two diseases emerging and this is going to be a great problem," Dr Dawson Mbulamberi, the assistant commissioner for Vector Borne Disease said.
He was speaking at the opening of a one-day workshop on sleeping sickness organised by DFID-WREN Media Uganda communications project at Hotel Africana on 6 May.
Mbulamberi said that 80 cases are reported in the north and 50 cases in the southeastern per month month.
He said the returning refugees from southern Sudan where there is an epidemic of the disease have caused the re-emergence of sleeping sickness in the north. He said the disease in the southeastern is moving northwards towards Lira following the current restocking of animals.
Dr Mbulamberi said most of the animals are got from Busoga region, which is highly infested with tsetse flies. He said Serere in Soroti has registered 50 cases so far.
"Scientists should come out and do research to improve on the toxic drugs because this is a disease for Africans which should be dealt with by Africans," Dr Mbulamberi said.
Sussan Thorp of WREN Media said there was urgent need to sensitise the public about sleeping sickness. She said that Nagana has also been found in pigs.
WRENmedia has been conducting a sleeping sickness and Nagana survey in Soroti and Mukono districts.