A cholera outbreak has hit Ntoroko district leaving two people dead and over 80 people admitted in a period of three weeks.
The Ntoroko district health officer Dr Simon Ssentamu said that the district registered the first case of cholera on 18 May 2012, but since then, the number accumulated to 82 patients.
He attributed the outbreak to people who fish from Lake Albert on the side of Hoima and Nebbi where cholera was reported recently.
“It is true we had an outbreak of disease and most samples that we tested turned positive to cholera and two people have since died but we are doing our best to stop the spread,” Dr Ssentamu confirmed.
Dr Ssentamu said most people who reported at centers of Kanara health center III and Karugutu Health center IV were vomiting, watery diheorea and also complained of muscle pain which led to dehydration in their bodies.
He explained that cholera can kill an adult within three hours, causing active secretion of an isotonic fluid resulting in profuse watery diarrhea, extreme loss of fluid and electrolytes, and dehydration and collapse.
According to Dr Ssentamu Cholera is an acute epidemic infectious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. “Vibrio cholerae bacteria naturally live as rod-shaped bacteria existing primarily in plankton populations in shallow, brackish water,” he said.
He said that people at the landing sites along Lake Albert have no pit latrine and they use the lake for sanitary issues and draw water for drinking and other domestic use.
“There is a lot of movement of people from Ntoroko side who go to Nebbi Hoima, Kibaale to catch fish. As you aware that cholera recently hit those districts where people also fish from, we suspect that they got the disease from there,” he said.
He said that most people who have been admitted escape from health centers for fear being identified in the community as people suffering from cholera.
Dr Ssentamu however told the people of Ntoroko that Cholera is normally spread by drinking contaminated water and eating contaminated food but it is very unlikely for cholera to be spread through casual contact and urged people not to isolate members of their families who have suffered of cholera.
“The disease has a lot of stigma associated with it and people don’t want to be identified that they were affected by cholera. Today four patients escaped from the health centers and discharged themselves before they were totally healed,” he said.
Richard Badaki, the in charge of Kanara health center III said that, it has been a very difficult time to handle cholera patients due to lack of human resource, infrastructure, water gloves and other supplies.
“We are only four staff at this health center, we have no beds patients are sleeping at the veranda without mattresses while others using incomplete building without windows and doors and we had a great challenge of drugs,” Badaki said.
It is for the reason, China National Offshore Oil Company Limited (CNOOC) has come to their rescue by procuring assorted medicines for the district worth sh 85M.
The General Manager of CNOOC in charge of development and production Qui Zongjie said it is part of their social corporate responsibility to help communities around the area where they have operations.
“When he has the bad news of cholera outbreak, we acted faster to bring medicines so that we don’t lose lives,” he said.
Dr Ssentamu said that among the much needed medicine to treat cholera received from CNOOC is Erythromycin, Ciprofloxacin tablets, Cephalexin, Amoxyccillin and Chloramphenicol capsules. Others are Intravenous fluids and Oral rehydration salt among others.
“We have received a lot of medicines and other supplies from one of our partner CNOOC to fight the colony of bacteria and other infections,” Dr Ssentamu said.
The district LC5 chairperson Timothy Kyamanywa urged people to observe proper hygiene and boil water for drinking in order to avoid water borne disease.
The chairman said that in district last suffered of cholera in 2007 when the disease hit the area killing 15 people and affected 230.
“I do not want to see the 2007 repeat when we lost 15 people due to cholera, observe proper hygiene and avoid drinking unboiled water otherwise we will continue to die from diseases which we can easily prevent,” Kyamanywa said.