Sunday, January 28, 2018

UGANDA: Bleeding eyes fever pandemic WARNING

GETTYOUTBREAK: Two strains of deadly viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) has been confirmed officials

Bleeding eyes fever pandemic WARNING: Outbreak could infect DOCTORS and become next Ebola.

THE lethal “bleeding eyes” disease sweeping Uganda could infect doctors and spread across the African continent in a chilling echo of the Ebola crisis, a leading disease expert has warned.

An outbreak of two strains of deadly viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) has been confirmed by the Ugandan authorities and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Four cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and five cases of Rift Valley Fever (RVF), four of whom died, have been confirmed since August 2017, according to the Ugandan Health Ministry.

Earlier this month Dr Diana Atwine, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, denied there was an outbreak of the disease, caused by a tick-borne virus, and advised the public to ignore reports of cases.

But the Health Ministry was forced into an embarrassing U-turn and confirmed the outbreak after a nine-year-old girl from a village in the Nakaseke district tested positive for CCHF.

The WHO has now launched an investigation into the outbreak of the disease in partnership with the Ugandan Health Ministry, a spokesperson told Daily Star Online.

In a press conference this week, Dr Atwine reported additional cases of the serious viral infections, which can cause victims to bleed from their orifices – including eyes, mouths and anuses.

Speaking to the media alongside WHO officials, she said: “Since August 2017, when suspected cases were reported, four cases of the Crimean- Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) have been confirmed and five cases of the Rift Valley Fever (RVF).

“Unfortunately, we have lost three cases of the RVF from Kiboga, Buikwe and Mityana districts.

“The latest cases were reported on January 19.”

Dr William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said quarantining patients is crucial to containing the virus, which becomes more infectious “with each passing day”.RELATED ARTICLES

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“Right at the beginning it’s not so infectious, but with each passing day, it becomes more of a problem.”Dr William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medici

Using the Ebola virus, which killed 11,315 people in 2014, as an example, Dr Schaffner said the “highly contagious” virus becomes “more infectious the longer the illness continues”.

Speaking to Daily Star Online, he said: “Most of these viruses circulate in the animal population, and only very occasionally, often under circumstances that are not clear, find themselves in a human host.

“When that happens you can get person-to-person transmission.

“Right at the beginning it’s not so infectious, but with each passing day, it becomes more of a problem.”

Dr Schaffner said medical officials are at risk of contracting the disease if the patient is not secluded within days of being struck down.

He said: “A patient must be taken to hospital immediately, where the isolation conditions are absolutely paramount otherwise the virus will be transmitted to nurses, doctors and other care givers."

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When asked if the outbreak could be the prelude to the next Ebola crisis, he illustrated how the infectious disease spread across six countries, including Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, the US and Mali, in 2014.

During the epidemic, Ebola deaths were mainly recorded in urbanised areas in the countries affected, where denser populations meant a higher risk of contagion, he said.

Dr Schaffner said the same could happen in Uganda if measures are not taken to prevent the disease from spreading.

“If people move out of the community, that’s a potential source of transmission to another community and yet another community after that,” he said.

“I can see how that could occur.”

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WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Daily Star Online officials are working with the Ugandan Ministry of Health to monitor the outbreak and provide technical assistance.

He said 100 full sets of personal protective equipment have been sent to Ugandan authorities to support health facilities dealing with the outbreak.

He said: “WHO is working with the Ugandan authorities in the response to the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever confirmed cases and in surveillance and investigation.

“As part of the National Task Force, WHO is supporting the coordination of the response and providing technical inputs to national and district response plans.”

Both Crimean-Congo Fever and the Rift Valley Fever are viral diseases that are found in livestock but can be transmitted to humans.

GETTYEMERGENCY: Blood samples from the victims tested positive VHF


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The CCHF virus, first detected in the 1940s, causes severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks, with a case fatality rate of 10–40%.

The onset of CCHF is sudden, with symptoms including headache, high fever, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.

In up to 75% of cases, signs of bleeding can appear within three to five days of the onset of illness.

The Ugandan Health Ministry has come under fire for playing down reports of the disease when cases first emerged in early January.

Doctors from the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) accused the Ministry of Health of failing to handle the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever in Nakaseke district and putting the lives of health workers at risk.

In an interview with Daily Star Online, Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, from the UMA, warned the disease will spread further unless action is taken quickly.

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