By Godfrey Olukya
KAMPALA, Uganda (AA) - One confirmed fatality from the deadly Rift Valley fever was reported Friday in the western Uganda district of Kagadi, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) west of the capital, Kampala.
“We have been invaded by Rift Valley fever. It is very dangerous. It has already killed one person,” Resident District Commissioner Lillian Ruteraho said in an interview.
She identified the victim as Justus Mugisha, who she said died earlier this week at the St. Ambrose charity health center.
Ten people who have been staying with Mugisha are suspected to be infected and samples of their blood were collected and sent to a laboratory.
Ruteraho said the district health task force and representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) held an emergency meeting at her office to discuss a way forward to contain a further spread of the fever.
District Chairman Yosia Ndibwami said authorities have collected samples from Mugisha’s contacts and animals he was grazing in an effort to fight the outbreak. He has asked residents to remain vigilant and to be tested in case they observe signs of the disease.
WHO representative Fred Ssewankambo said the group will support the district to fight the outbreak.
“I kindly request the district health officer’s office and district health task force to engage the private sectors in fighting the epidemics,” he said.
Ssewankambo also asked the veterinary department to be at the forefront of mobilizing communities to control further transmissions.
Rift Valley fever got its name in 1930 with it was first identified in Kenya around the East African Rift Valley.
It attacks animals and people who come closer to animals or feed on animal products.
It can also be transmitted by mosquitoes so residents are advised to sleep under mosquito nets and isolate from animals, their products or vaccinate affected animals.
Symptoms include high fever, weakness, dizziness and swelling of brain tissues.