Mystery illness is yellow fever

2010-12-29 13:25

Kampala - Uganda said on Wednesday that a previously unidentified disease that has killed 48 people in the north of country is yellow fever.

Following the initial outbreak in November, health official were baffled by the illness, with many first believing it was a mutated version of bubonic plague.

Domestic and international lab tests have now confirmed that the disease, with 187 confirmed cases, and which spread across several northern districts is yellow fever, director of health services Kenya Mugisha told AFP.

"With yellow fever, it can take some time to identify positively. In other countries it has taken six months," he said.

He said the immediate priority was to secure funds to immunise everyone living in the outbreak area and that they had held talks with donors over financing of the programme.

"We have also asked government for supplementary funding."

Defences against the virus had relaxed since the last documented outbreak in Uganda in 1971-1972, Mugisha said.

Yellow fever is spread, like malaria, by mosquitoes and is a persistent problem in northern Uganda. There is no specific treatment and symptoms and severity vary from case to case.

Vaccination and other protective measures like bed nets, insect repellent and long clothing are considered the best methods to contain an outbreak.