Reports reaching this newspaper are that residents of Kakumiro District are living in fear after a second person died of a disease with symptoms similar to those of the Congo-Crimean Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).
This comes after state minister for Health Sarah Opendi on May 27, refuted the outbreak of Ebola in the district and linked the death of a 35-year-old man in Nkooko Sub-county to the CCHF after spending sometime at Mubende Hospital.
The CCHF is a viral zoonosis (animal-to-human) infection and is caused by a tick-borne virus hosted by mainly wild and domestic animals like cattle, sheep and goats.
Yet just slightly more than two weeks ago, 12 people in Kween District in eastern Uganda, were reported to be suffering from anthrax, which had killed an unspecified number of cattle in the area.
In Kiruhura District, 18 people were admitted to Engari Community Health Centre III in Kazo County after reportedly consuming beef of cattle that had succumbed to anthrax. Ms Justine Turyabaho, a health worker, said the patients showed blisters on their hands and heads, which are some of the signs of anthrax.
Spore-forming bacteria cause anthrax. It mainly affects animals, but humans can become infected through contact with an infected animal or by inhalation.
Besides, this newspaper yesterday reported that residents of Lyantonde, Gomba, Kiruhura, Isingiro, and Sembabule districts consume raw milk, with some pupils packing it to school, much to the chagrin of health officials.
The medical records on dangers of consuming raw milk are not interesting. In Sembabule District alone, 1,236 cases of brucellosis, have been recorded between July last year and April.
Doctors in the district also say consumption of uncooked milk exposes humans to animal tuberculosis. Also, animals suffering from Foot and Mouth Disease are likely to infect humans with mouth sores.
This trend, and others before the examples listed here, point to something we need to pay attention to. A 2012 study, ‘Mapping of Poverty and Likely Zoonoses Hotspots’, indicates that animal diseases are responsible for 2.2 million human deaths every year globally.
The research also said about 60 per cent of all human diseases and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are from animals such as pigs, chickens, cattle, goats, sheep and camels.
Such diseases are hepatitis E, leptospirosis, rabies, brucellosis, Q fever, sleeping sickness, hepatitis E; and anthrax.
We, therefore, call upon veterinary officers and other stakeholders to sensitise the public on how to handle animals to avoid exposure to such diseases.