Ugandan health officials have declared the country free of yellow fever, after an initial outbreak of the disease hit some regions of the country earlier in the year.
Dr. Anthony Mbonye, director general of Health Services, announced Tuesday that the country had successfully tackled a recent yellow fever outbreak and brought the situation under control.
Speaking to newsmen at the Uganda Media Centre, Dr. Mbonye said that within a three-month period, beginning June 1, there was no evidence of new yellow fever cases within the country, ending any worries about the risk of a possible outbreak on a massive scale.
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“No new cases of yellow fever have been confirmed. The Public Health Emergency Operations Centres coordinated a one-month enhanced yellow fever surveillance in the 17 districts…there was no evidence of yellow fever transmission,” Dr. Mbonye said.
Local newspaper the Observer reports that in March, hospital workers in the district of Masaka were presented with cases of a high grade fever that were nonresponsive to the standard anti-malarial course of treatment.
The fever was accompanied by convulsions and unconsciousness — both of which are symptoms associated with the yellow fever virus. Later tests would reveal that it was indeed an outbreak of the yellow fever virus.
Yellow fever is an acute viral disease that affects the kidneys and liver. It is a tropical disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes that serve as the disease vector. Associated symptoms include fever, chills, muscle pains, and headache. Symptoms typically improve within a five-day period, but in chronic cases, it could lead to an infection of the liver, causing a “yellowing” of the skin and increase the risk of kidney problems.
Ugandan health authorities responded to the outbreak by mounting a massive yellow fever vaccination campaign in the affected districts, with more than half a million Ugandans being vaccinated.
The vaccination campaign ran from May 19th to May 22nd in Masaka and Rukungiri districts and then from June 4th to June 7th in the Kalangala district. Official figures put the number of persons vaccinated in Masaka district at 273,447, with another 304,605 inoculated in Rukungiri district and 49,654 in Kalangala district.
In addition, the Ugandan Ministry of Health issued a travel advisory urging visitors from endemic and high-risk countries to present health certificates at Entebbe International Airport and other entry points showing that they were recently immunized.