Mysterious Serious Disease in Uganda

Scientists are to launch a series of other investigations after previous ones failed to identify the cause of a mysterious disease that has killed over 100 people and left over 2,000 others infected in several districts in northern Uganda.

The disease which was first reported in September 2009 has since been dubbed ‘nodding disease’ because it leaves its victims nodding.

It has since spread to five districts in the region which include Kitgum, Lamwo, Pader, Agago and Amuru.

Richard Nduhura, minister of state for health in charge of general duties, said the two previous samples and tests carried out by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) scientists in Atlanta U.S. failed to identify the cause of the disease.

Nduhura, who is leading a fact finding mission in the affected areas which are also recovering from a two decade long insurgency, told the residents on Friday that a team of scientists from the ministry of health, World Health Organization and CDC is going to carry out new tests.

“We are going to handle and give this matter (disease) the attention it deserves. We are going to work with you (residents) to find out the cause and solution to this problem. We are going to carry another round of tests to establish and identify the disease,” he said.

Jane Achieng, director general of health services, said that although the cause of the disease is still unknown, they are going to do their best to contain it.

The disease is characterized by head nodding, mental retardation, stunted growth affecting children and young adults. It causes young children and adolescents to nod violently while eating.

The first samples and tests were carried out in December 2009 and the second were taken in August 2010.

Local leaders here attribute the outbreak to the effects of the over two decade long insurgency that the region faced until 2006.

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