Hepatitis B kills 29 people in West Nile
Posted Saturday, January 5 2013 at 02:00
About the virus
Hepatitis B is an infectious inflammatory illness of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that affects humans. Originally known as “serum hepatitis”, the disease has caused epidemics in parts of Asia and Africa, and it is endemic in China. About a third of the world population has been infected at one point in their lives, including 350 million who are chronic carriers.
The virus is transmitted by exposure to infectious blood or body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, while viral DNA has been detected in the saliva, tears, and urine of chronic carriers.
Health officials in West Nile have expressed fear over the persistent existence of Hepatitis B virus, which has killed at least 29 people.
They say cases of Hepatitis B virus are on the rise in Moyo and Adjumani districts as most of the health facilities in the area lack the required vaccines to combat the virus.
In private clinics, a complete dose of Hepatitis B vaccine is sold at Shs80,000, which most patients complained was too expensive.
In a report compiled by the district disease surveillance teams, at least 21 deaths were recorded in Moyo and another eight in Adjumani District between 2010 and 2012.
The health workers, however, say several more people could have succumbed to the disease, but were unrecorded because majority of the patients sought treatment from private clinics.
Mr Simon Amudra, the disease surveillance officer for Moyo District, said Hepatitis B virus is a viral infection which largely infects the liver.
Mode of transmission
He said the virus is transmitted the same way HIV is transmitted, although it is 10 times more infectious than HIV.
In September last year, in the neighbouring district of Adjumani, the medical superintendent, Dr Dominic Drametu, said in the last three years, the hospital has treated about 90 cases and lost around eight people to the disease.
“On average at least the hospital handles at least two cases of Hepatitis B every month but our challenge is the facility lack the required drugs,” Dr Drametu told this newspaper.