The Plauge in the News

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  • Plague Outbreak Kills 17 in NebbiTitle, New Vision, October 9, 2001
  • 14 Die in Bubonic Plague Outbreak, Associated Press, October 11, 2001
  • Bubonic Plague Kills 30 in Nebbi, New Vision, November 10, 2001

    Palgue Outbreak Kills 17 in Nebbi
    ©New Vision, Kampala
    October 9, 2001

    Seventeen people have died in a fresh plague outbreak in Okoro county, Nebbi district, state minister for health Capt. Mike Mukula has said, reports Gilbert Awekofua.

    "Yes, on Saturday we dispatched an emergency team with an assortment of drugs to Nebbi. From here, Dr Sam Okware is handling the team nationally and I should be able to get there myself later," he said yesterday.

    The MP for Okoro, Simon D'Ujanga, said yesterday all public gatherings had been banned in the county. He said district independence celebrations which were scheduled to take place in Kango, one of the affected sub-counties, has been shifted to the district headquarters.

    D'Ujanga said the official opening of Zeu Village Bank slated for October 8 had also been postponed indefinitely. Zeu is one of the affected sub-counties. The District Director of Health Services, Dr Sam Orach, said the district had embarked on a media campaign to ensure that the dead are buried immediately and not transported from one place to another.

    "The first death occurred in Umua village. The body was transported to Uwathu village where people are now affected. The one from Atheju village in Zeu came from Warr village, where somebody went to attend a burial," Orach said. He said rats transmit the plaque but that hygiene was the major way of fighting it. By keeping the environment clean, rats which carry the flea, do not come into contact with humans," he said.

    Orach said the plague sometimes manifests itself like ebola. "It may come with diarrhoea, the victims may also vomit blood, this is one type. The bubonic type comes with headache and fever while the pneumonic one comes with cough and can kill within 24 and 48 hours."

    Orach said the disease has been in Nebbi for over 40 years now. He said there were 45 cases reported last year with 15 deaths and another 42 cases in 1998.

    Copyright © 2001 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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    14 Die in Bubonic Plague Outbreak
    ©The Associated Press
    October 11, 2001

    KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - An outbreak of bubonic plague believed caused by an influx of rats into several Ugandan villages has killed 14 people in the last three weeks, a government health official said Thursday.

    The rats have entered four villages in the northwestern Nebbi district near the Congo border, said Dr. Dam Okware, who is coordinating the government's efforts to halt the spread of the fatal disease.

    The rats normally live outside the villages but seek shelter during the annual rainy season, he said.

    So far, 23 people have been infected with the disease, which affects the lymph nodes, and 14 have died, but no new cases have been reported since Oct. 3, Okware said.

    The bacterial disease is transmitted from rodents to humans by fleas living on the infected animals. People can also get it through direct contact with infected blood or tissues.

    There are three different variations of plague, including bubonic. All are treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed in time.

    Symptoms in people include sudden high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and sometimes nausea or vomiting.

    Plague outbreaks have claimed 200 million lives in the past 1,500 years. The most infamous, Europe's Black Death, started in 1347, killing 25 million in Europe and 13 million in the Middle East and China within five years.

    AP-NY-10-11-01 0945EDT © 2001 Associated Press

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    Bubonic Plague Kills 30 in Nebbi
    ©New Vision, Kampala
    Kezio Musoke
    November 10, 2001

    More than 30 people had died of bubonic plague in Nebbi and Arua districts by the end of October. More than 150 cases have been recorded.

    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Kampala has said there is upsurge in the epidemic in Nebbi where more than 20 people have died.

    Zeu, Kango and Nyapea sub-counties in Okoro county are the worst affected, according to the latest update of OCHA office.

    Bubonic plague is an acute infection, characterised by chills, exhaustion, delirium and inflammation of the lymph nodes. It is caused by the bite fleas which bite rats infected by the plague bacteria.

    There is no vaccination programme, but the disease can be treated when detected early.

    The health ministry commissioner in-charge of community health, Dr Sam Okware, has said the ministry had sent a team with insecticide to kill the fleas that spread the plague.

    Okware also said the heavy rains in the region bordering the DRC had made efforts to spray against the fleas difficult.

    He said efforts were being made to coordinate the fight against the fleas with the Democratic Republic of Congo to stop from spreading from one country to another as has been the case.

    across the borderauthorities in Zeu, Kanji, Nyapea, Ayak and Paheya sub-counties of Nebbi District, with some international relief agencies active inside eastern DRC.

    The Ministry has also reported that there was minor outbreak in Logiri sub-county, Arua District, which borders Nebbi and the DRC with six cases and two deaths.

    The UN office for Humanitarian Coordination reported that officials from the Uganda National Virus Institute were currently in the area concerned, senstising the population and monitoring the situation.

    "We are not yet out of danger and therefore, remain vigilant. One major need that had been highlighted was the chemicals needed to spray households to get rid of the fleas," Okware said. Ends

    Copyright © 2001 New Vision. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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