BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: Wednesday, August 04, 2021
The Arua City Covid-19 task-force has added on the task of community sensitization against plague following the declaration of an epidemic in the neighbouring Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
More than 461 sporadic cases were registered last year but the current resurgence which began in April, 2021 has seen 117 cases resulting into 35 deaths according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) tally.
Dr. Pontius Apangu, the Arua City principal medical officer, said initial interface with officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Health took place on Tuesday and the task-force has raised its alertness.
“It is inevitable that we mobilize the community to prevent that outbreak from spreading across the borders because of the dangers we know very well,” he said in a briefing to the task-force.
Up to late 2000’s, plague, caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria and transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, was endemic in parts of West Nile sub-region that borders the Eastern DR Congo before it was routed out.
The epidemic in Ituri, according to WHO, has affected the health zones of Logo, Aru, Linga, Kambala, Biringi, Rimba, Aungba and Rethy.
The disease in its various forms – bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic – manifests into patients presenting headaches, cough, painful lymph nodes, and body weakness and vomiting blood among others.
Unlike Coronavirus, plague has no vaccine and unless detected and treated early, the infection can result into fatalities.
Martin Oroch, the Arua City’s task-force chairman who is also the resident City commissioner called for better coordination with their Congolese counterparts to ensure that the new zoonosis threat is nipped in the bud.
He asked the Medicines Sans Frontiers which already has operational presence in the epidemic area to spearhead the coordination efforts, a task that Miriam Harry, the MSF’s representative to the task-force said they will perform.