On 24th March 2016, an alert of a suspected Viral Haemorrhagic Fever (VHF) outbreak in Masaka district (Kaloddo village) was received by the Ministry of Health through the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC). Three cases from a single family had presented to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital with high-grade fever that was non-responsive to anti-malarial treatment with haemorrhagic signs and acute neurological signs (convulsions and unconsciousness).
Immediately (on 28th March 2016), a rapid response team (RRT) from the Ministry of Health Headquarters was constituted and deployed to work with Masaka district health office to further investigate and respond to the suspected VHF outbreak. The Masaka district task force was activated, a treatment centre set up at Masaka Regional Referral Hospital, active community case finding conducted and more samples collected and referred to the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) for laboratory testing.
On 7th April 2016, Yellow Fever was confirmed by UVRI on 3 samples from Masaka by serology. This diagnosis was re-confirmed on 21st April 2016 by CDC Fort Collins (WHO Collaborative Centre for Yellow Fever). Intensification of Yellow Fever Surveillance activities also confirmed Yellow Fever in Rukungiri and Kalangala districts on 13th April 2016 and 4th May 2016 respectively.
From 24th March to 4th May 2016, a total of 65 suspected Yellow Fever cases were reported from districts in the greater Masaka region. Out of the total 65 suspected Yellow Fever cases, 7 cases were confirmed. These were from Masaka (5), Rukungiri (1) and Kalangala (1). Three of confirmed cases died.
With support from World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC, ICG, GAVI, UNICEF and other partners, the Ministry of Health conducted a reactive Yellow Fever Vaccination in the three districts that had confirmed outbreaks of Yellow Fever. The Yellow Fever vaccination campaign targeted all the residents of Masaka, Rukungiri and Kalangala districts. The vaccination campaign was implemented from 19th May 2016 to 22nd May 2016 in Masaka and Rukungiri districts and from 4th June 2016 to 7th June 2016 in Kalangala district. A total of 627,706 individuals (aged six months and above) were vaccinated including 273,447 in Masaka district, 304,605 in Rukungiri district and 49,654 in Kalangala district. Overall, a vaccination coverage of 94% (which is above the WHO recommended coverage of 90%) was achieved in the 3 districts, 91% in Masaka, 97% in Rukungiri and 95% in Kalangala district. Following the successful Yellow Fever vaccination campaign in the affected districts, no new cases of Yellow Fever have been confirmed. The PHEOC coordinated a one month enhanced Yellow Fever surveillance in 17 districts (Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo, Rakai, Lyantonde, Sembabule; Kiruhura, Mbarara, Mitooma, Sheema, Bushenyi, Rubirizi, Ntungamo, Buhweju, Isingiro; Kabale and Kanungu) surrounding the three districts with confirmed cases. There was no evidence of any active Yellow Fever transmission between the 1st to the 30th of June 2016.
Today, I have the honour and pleasure to inform the general public and partners the 2016 Yellow Fever outbreak is fully contained.
Disease surveillance efforts are still ongoing to detect any other possible outbreak of Yellow Fever. Efforts are also still ongoing to ensure that the risk of importation of Yellow Fever through international travel is minimized. It is mandatory that individuals travelling from Yellow Fever high risk countries into Uganda are fully vaccinated against Yellow Fever before entry into Uganda. Unvaccinated travellers from Uganda are also advised to access the Yellow Fever vaccine from centres that are accredited to provide Yellow Fever vaccination.
The public is urged to continuously protect themselves from mosquito bites and report any cases with bleeding tendencies and yellowing of eyes (jaundice) to the nearest health facility.