The health ministry has said 5 people have died after eating meat
believed to be infected with anthrax in Katunguru sub-county in
Bushenyi district. "A total of 159 people are being monitored by our
surveillance team for possible symptoms of anthrax after being
exposed to the risk," Paul Kaggwa, the health ministry spokesperson,
told The New Vision yesterday [17 Feb 2009].
The 1st 2 deaths occurred on Saturday [14 Feb 2009] at Kisenyi
landing site and 3 more deaths were registered between Saturday and
Tuesday [17 Feb 2009]. They are believed to have eaten a carcass of
an antelope. Two other people were sent to Lugazi health centre for
medical check up after complaining of abdominal pains. Kaggwa urged
people to desist from eating wild animals.
"The infected animal strayed out of Queen Elizabeth National Park
(QENP) around 27 Jan 2009 and the residents slaughtered it," said
Kaggwa. "They developed abdominal pains, the 1st symptom and it was
reported on 6 Feb 2009."
The health ministry has advised people in the affected area to report
to health centres if they develop symptoms associated with anthrax.
A joint team from the Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA), the health
and agriculture ministries and the School of Public Health, Makerere
University, has been dispatched to Bushenyi to study the situation.
Moses Mapesa, the executive director of UWA, said he would wait for a
report from his technical team and health officials before confirming
the outbreak. "We have dealt with disease outbreaks before. We need
to get the confirmatory tests first," Mapesa said. Mapesa warned the
public against eating game meat.
Between August and October 2004, an outbreak of anthrax in Queen
Elizabeth National Park left 200 hippos dead. People who ate the
carcasses also died. The affected areas were Kisenyi and Kasenyi
landing sites and Kazinga Channel. This forced the UWA to suspend
tourism activities in the area.
[Byline: Anthony Bugembe]