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Sunday, January 14

Uganda's Ministry of Health tries to put down a panic

"We are in control. We know everything. ... There is no cause for alarm."


What with the story about a wrong-button pusher in Hawaii this is a very bad week for governments to attempt to assure the public they are in control -- although I must say Dr Atwine's wonderfully emotional declamation should get a prize for Most Convincing Assurance that government is leaving no stone unturned. 

So is this is a new, highly infectious deadly disease, or an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever?  Either way, the incident underscores that officials trying to cover up or downplay an infectious disease outbreak is so last century. In this century of globalized 24/7 news and social media, governments the world over are being forced to the realization that they must somehow thread the camel through the needle: keep the public well informed about a possible infectious disease outbreak but without setting off or adding to a panic.  

The U.K. Star, which has made itself a clearing house for tales of infectious disease outbreaks, has a report on the Uganda situation. (See also their slide show report on recent globalized deadly disease outbreaks): 

Black Death TWO: Girl, 9, drops dead as strange 'eye-bleeding fever' spreads
By Anthony Blair
January 13, 2018

A NEW disease is feared to become even more deadly than the Black Death that killed thousands in 2017 after it killed a nine year-old 
child.

She had contracted the bizarre new disease with similarities to the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

This disease — usually spread by tick bites or contact with infected livestock — can cause muscle pains, headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding.

And panic is spreading after the sudden death of a girl in the Nakaseke District of Uganda.

A rapid response health team was rushed from the local hospital with a body bag to collect her and prevent any possible outbreak.

Health teams disinfected the girl's home after her death on Thursday night local time, but didn't give her grieving family any details about when they could have her body back. [read on]

[...]

Local district Health Officer Dr Badru Ssesimba confirmed that blood samples from the girl's body had been handed over to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, but wouldn't give more details.

Authorities at the hospital — who didn't want to be named — said that the body would be buried by health teams due to the "sensitivity" about a further outbreak.

Four people have now died in Uganda this week from the 'eye-bleeding fever'.

But local officials in the East African country — which has been plagued by similar outbreaks recently — said this could be a completely new disease.

Last week Uganda's Ministry of Health denied claims by local officials in Nakaseke that Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever had broken out.

But Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Health Dr Diana Atwine confirmed that fluid and blood samples from the dead child are being tested to find out exactly what she died from.

This week MPs in Uganda's Parliament claimed there was a cover-up of a deadly plague outbreak in Uganda by the government.

Recently there were fears that a tribal 'Cleaning of Corpses' ritual in Indonesia could lead to a fresh Black Death outbreak.

And the World Health Organisation warned last week that an extra £3 million was needed by April to stop the return of Black Death.

[END REPORT]

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