More cases recorded as Kyotera strange disease puzzles medics

Mr Joseph Mazzi (left), a survivor of the strange disease, speaks to Mr Emax Kintu,  the Kyotera Disrict health educator, in Kyamayembe Village last weekend. PHOTO/ AMBROSE MUSASIZI

What you need to know:

  • Leaders say many people have lost hope of surviving.

Fresh samples taken from victims of a strange disease, which hit Kabira Sub-county in Kyotera District a month ago, have turned out negative to anthrax following laboratory tests.

Dr Edward Muwanga, the district health officer, said the samples were taken from two people in Kyamayembe Village and delivered to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) in Entebbe on November 19.
The samples were tested on the following day (November 20) and the results tested negative for Anthrax.

Anthrax is caused by a bacteria known as Bacillus anthracis. Humans generally acquire the disease directly or indirectly from infected animals or occupational exposure to affected or contaminated animal products.
“We took blood samples from Mr Joseph Mazzi, 63, and Ms Florence Namisango, 45, who are all residents of Kyamayembe Village but the results showed that there was no sign of anthrax,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Latest reports from the affected villages of Kyamayembe, Bugera, Nakatoogo in Bwamijja Parish and Mabaale, Kabutooke and Kyanika in Kyanika Parish indicate that more than 30 people have contracted the strange disease, bringing the number of patients to 40.

Death toll
 The death toll has also risen from 12 to 14.
The latest residents to succumb to the strange disease are John Lubambula of Mabaale and Gyaviira Kalanda, 48, a resident of Kyanika Village who were buried on November 10 and November 17, respectively. Both suffered a few rashes on their hands before dying.
Ms Regina Nakalyango, the councillor representing Kabira Sub-county, said the numbers of people contracting the disease is increasing by the day and many have lost hope of surviving.
“People in our villages are living in fear due to the impact of this strange disease. The worst part is they believe in traditional healing since the medics have also failed to find answers to the deadly disease,” she said.

Dr Muwanga urged all residents in the area and their leaders to accept to be tested by medics so that the cause of death is identified.
He also hinted on the cellulitis disease locally known as ‘ettalo’ which the district health team is  focusing on.
“We are still waiting for the next set of results, but looking at the signs and symptoms, it is possible that it is cellulitis killing the people,” he said.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Ministry of Health spokesperson, said their team is already on ground to ascertain the cause of death.
“We shall talk about the said strange disease when the final results are out, not now,” he said.

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 came out and named the illness as cellulitis, locally known as ettalo. Victims were presenting signs and symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and bleeding.