12 killed as strange disease hits Kyotera

Mr Joseph Mazzi, 63, a survivor of the strange disease, shows the scars it left on his hand in Kyamayembe Village at the weekend. PHOTO/AMBROSE MUSASIZI

What you need to know:

  • Mr Joseph Mazzi 63, a survivor of the strange disease in Kyamayembe Village,  told Monitor that he had heard of the signs and symptoms but couldn’t believe that he would also fall victim.

Health leaders in Kyotera District are puzzled over a strange disease that has hit two villages in Kabira Sub-county, killing at least 12 residents in a space of two weeks.

The affected villages are Kasamba and Kyamayembe.

According to Mr Emax Kintu, the district health educator, the disease was investigated by the Masaka regional health team, World Health Organisation (WHO) and other health teams, but laboratory tests ruled out Marburg, Ebola, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and the Rift Valley Fever.

“Most of the patients present a rash on the skin, which keeps widening and after a few days, the victim dies,” he said.

Mr Joseph Giriman, the district surveillance focal person, told this publication on Saturday that there are more results expected to be got from the Ministry of Health because fresh samples had been taken from the skin of one of the patients who died at Kalisizo General Hospital last week.

“We realised that the signs and symptoms among the victims are not that different from the ones that we have been experiencing some time back in the villages of Kyanika A, Kyanika B in the same sub-county and the ones in Kijonjo in the nearby Kasasa Sub-county,” he said.

After residents realised that most of the people getting affected can hardly be healed in the health centres , some have  resorted to seeking medication from local traditional healers who are led by Ms Nalongo Nansamba.

Ms Nansamba claims that the disease is traditional and can easily be healed using herbs if residents avoid shaking hands. “We have attended to a few patients and their situation is improving steadily. The best method is reporting to us or the doctors so that we devise the easiest means to curb the disease”, she said.

But Dr Edward Muwanga, the district health officer, said a good number of residents in Kabira believe so much in witchcraft, which has complicated treatment of some diseases.

“We need to sensitise the people in that area because they don’t mind about going to health centres yet some diseases can easily be treated by our health workers. I am sure that health condition can be handled at our health centres,’ he said.

Mr Joseph Mazzi 63, a survivor of the strange disease in Kyamayembe Village,  told Monitor that he had heard of the signs and symptoms but couldn’t believe that he would also fall victim. 

“I got pimples in my hands and within three days, my arm had become thrice its normal size to the extent that I couldn’t put on a long sleeved shirt. I have visited traditional healers in the past one week and their concoctions have given me some relief   and I expect to heal because I no longer feel the  pain”, he said.

Mr Richard Kalanzi, the chairperson of Kabira Sub-county, said since the disease is not known, it has become difficult for them to stop patients from seeking treatment from traditional healers.

When contacted on Sunday, Ministry of Health spokesperson Emmanuel Ainebyoona said: “I am sure, our surveillance teams must be attending to that issue and  I am yet to get  their findings, which I will share with  the public.”

In July last year, the district was hit by what was at first believed to be a strange disease which killed 13 residents in Kijonjo Parish, Kasasa Sub-county

. The Ministry of Health later named the illnesses as cellulitis, locally known as ettalo. Victims were presenting signs and symptoms such, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and bleeding before one breathed  his last in a short period.