Residents of Rwenshambya village in Keihangara Sub-county, Ibanda District are living in fear after a strange disease claimed seven lives and left a family of five crippled. Locals believe this is the same disease that claimed seven lives a few years ago.
The district speaker Herbert Mayanja says the disease first attacked in 1995. He added that victims complain of fever, dizziness, trembling and becoming crippled, a situation that has forced residents to suspect it to be nodding syndrome.
The latest victims, Fred Karuhanga and his children are being taken care of by Scovia Ndiyo, Karuhanga’s wife, who survived the disease.
“We have tried to get treatment but in vain. I am the only one left to fend for this family and it is tough,” said Ndiyo.
She added that on top of everything else, the community is discriminating her family. “Neighbours associate the disease to evil spirits and witchcraft making it even harder to take care of them.”
Amon Mwijukye, the Ibanda District vice chairperson said the situation is complex for the district to handle and called for government’s intervention before it spreads to other parts of the district.
In a report titled, A report on strange disease/suspected nodding disease outbreak in Ibanda, by district Local government signed by the district health officer, Dr Julius Bamwine, the district leadership wrote to the director general ministry of Health sharing their findings.
The report documents the living conditions in homesteads of affected families as very poor, medical history of the families being scanty, no history of routine immunization, and cultural attachment of the disease. It was observed that most victims sought traditional healers as opposed to medical doctors.
The report recommends intensive health inspection where collected samples should be sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute for further screening to establish the cause of the strange disease.