Ministry of Health officials in Uganda yesterday confirmed an outbreak of measles in some parts of the country with a warning that it may spread further if not contained.
“According to surveillance reports, a number of cases have been confirmed in Kamwenge and Kamuli districts. In Kamuli, the most affected sub-counties include Butandisi, Nawanago, Balawoli, Nabwigulu and Kamuli Municipality,” Prof Anthony K Mbonye, the acting director General Health Services, said in a statement.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes measles as a highly infectious vaccine-preventable disease that manifests itself with fever, generalised skin rash lasting a minimum of three days, red eyes, red lips and sores in the mouth, cough and a runny nose.
Children above five up to 14 years of age are the most affected.
There was no death confirmed yet, Prof Mbonye said. He attributed the latest outbreak to a number of factors, including “the high influx of refugees from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, religious cults, cultural attachments and attitudes towards accessing health services.”
In northern Uganda where there has been an influx of refugees from South Sudan, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), working with the Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, has immunised more than 15,000 children under the age of 15 against measles.
Prof Mbonye said government has “increased measles surveillance, sensitisation programmes to educate masses about the signs, symptoms and dangers of the disease and is undertaking mass immunisation of children.”
Uganda has in the past carried out major measles immunisation campaigns, including one in Kyegegwa District last year.
Measles remains a major killer of young children, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Meanwhile, three cases of Rubella have also been confirmed by the Health ministry in Awei Sub-county, Alebtong District, Lango sub-region.
Rubella is an infection caused by the rubella virus characterised by fever, sore throat and fatigue.
A rash that is sometimes itchy may appear after two weeks.
The number of people – mostly children under the age of five, who died from measles in 2014 worldwide, according to World Health Organisation.