Uganda: Four dead as cholera strikes Kampala again

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Robert Mwanje & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Kampala - The cholera epidemic has struck Kampala city suburbs again killing four people and six others have been admitted at Mulago Referral Hospital.

This comes two weeks after medics announced that they had contained the epidemic in Kinawataka-Katogo Zone near Bweyogerere in Nakawa Division.

Kampala City Council Health Department yesterday revealed that the epidemic had spread to areas of Bwaise, Kanyanya in Kawempe Division, Kisenyi in Central Division, and some parts of Makindye Division. The epidemic which first broke out late last month in Kinawataka, claimed four lives out of the 43 cumulative cases recorded then.

The City Health Secretary, Mr Caeser Tokoma, said the epidemic was real and urged people to observe hygiene and avoid consuming cold food. "Cholera has spread all over the city suburbs and people should improve their personal hygiene and avoid taking cold foods and drinks," Mr Tokoma said yesterday.

He said a special cholera isolation unit had been reopened at Mulago Hospital to handle the victims. "The problem started from Nakawa Division specifically at Kinawataka where people drink contaminated water," he added. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.

It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.

The District Health Officer in charge of Disease Surveillance and Response, Dr Joseph Senzoga, urged the public to improve personal hygiene and report cholera cases immediately.

"Immediate communication to relevant authorities helps the patient and reduces chances of disease from spreading to other members of the community," Dr Senzoga said. He attributed the outbreak to poor water supply and poor sanitation in most slummy areas especially those located in swamps.