Two people in Palorinya refugee settlement in Obongi district have tested positive for meningitis, health officials have revealed. Meningitis is caused by inflammation of the meninges that surround the brain and spinal cord and protect the central nervous system.
The two, cases which are among South Sudanese refugees have been isolated at Belameling Health Center II in Zone 1, Palorinya sub-county, according to the Obongi health officials.
Dominic Lomurecu, the acting Obongi District Health Officer told Uganda Radio Network-URN that they have been investigating 16 suspected cases who presented with signs and symptoms of the disease since last month.
Two out of the 16 cases tested positive. He further notes that they have so far listed about 95 contacts who are believed to have interacted with the confirmed cases for a possible follow-up and monitoring in the next seven days.
According to Lomurecu, they suspect the refugees could have carried the virus from South Sudan to Uganda due to the frequent movement of in and out of the settlement during the recent festive season.
Christopher Dradiku, the West Nile Regional Integrated Disease surveillance response focal person based at Arua Regional Referral Hospital explains that they are still waiting for a case definition from the Ministry of Health to declare an outbreak.
Dradiku says that they have already embarked on a sensitization campaign to prevent the further spread of the disease among the refugee population and the host community.
A person infected with Meningitis often presents with high fever, stiff neck, vomiting, and confusion. While other symptoms include irritability, general body weakness, and poor feeding. Uganda is one of the African countries with the highest rates and incidence of meningitis, something attributed to the fact that it lies within the extended meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa.
The most prone regions include West Nile, Acholi, Lango, Teso, Bunyoro, and Karamoja since they lie within the meningitis belt.