In a follow-up to earlier reports on the Uganda typhoid outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) via the Uganda Ministry of Health put the outbreak near 2,000 cases since it’s genesis in Kampala at the beginning of the year.
As of 5 March 2015, a total of 1940 suspected cases have been reported. From the first epicentre in downtown Kampala, the outbreak has now spread to all divisions in the capital city and to neighboring districts, WHO reports.
The most affected groups are young males aged between 20 and 39 years. The majority of cases work in the business sector or as casual labourers. Food and juice vendors and cooks are also affected, hence the potential for wide spread of the disease.
At the beginning of the outbreak Salmonella Typhi was laboratory-confirmed in 4 of 16 tested specimens. Further specimens have been tested during the outbreak identifying 5 isolates of Salmonella paratyphi group A. Contaminated drinking water and juices have been identified as the main sources of infection.
The National Task Force has been activated to manage the outbreak. Surveillance has been improved and the situation is being monitored to provide evidence-based guidance for decision-making. Unsafe water sources have been closed and a work plan to address the outbreak is under finalization. Safe water is being provided in the affected locations and intensive social mobilization is ongoing to inform the population on expected behaviors.
Typhoid fever is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Salmonella typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.typhi in their feces.
You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.
Typhoid fever can be successfully treated with appropriate antibiotics, and persons given antibioticsusuallybegin to feel better within 2 to 3 days.