Rubella Virus Outbreak Reported In Hoima

An outbreak of Rubella virus has been confirmed in Kyabigambire Sub County, Hoima district.

The outbreak reported last week in Kibaire village had been suspected to be measles, until laboratory tests at the Uganda Virus Research Institute proved it was Rubella.

Rubella, commonly known as German measles, is an acute, contagious viral infection which affects mostly children and expectant mothers. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), illness is generally mild in children, but has serious consequences in pregnant women causing fetal death or congenital defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). An estimated 110 000 babies worldwide are born with CRS every year.

Fredrick Byenume, the Hoima district health inspector, says Rubella signs and symptoms are similar to measles except rubella has side effects on the patient. Byenume says a patient can at times lose memory, a symptom with patients in Kyabigambire.

Common symptoms of Rubella include a rash, low fever, nausea and mild conjunctivitis. It also presents with swollen lymph glands behind the ears and in the neck, arthritis and painful joints that usually last from 3–10 days.

In Hoima, samples were taken from seven children aged below five and they all tested positive. Byenume says children presented with high fever, red eyes and cough, symptoms associated with measles.

Byenume says the children who are now in a stable condition, are being treated for skin rushes and the side effects of memory loss.

He says families are also being encouraged to isolate the patients to avoid the disease spread. The health officer suspects the disease spread from the neighboring Bwijanga sub county in Masindi district where cases were reported early this year.

Rubella is caused by a virus similar to the one that causes measles and is usually transmitted by droplets from the nose or throat. It can also pass through a pregnant woman’s bloodstream to infect her unborn child.

Despite the outbreak, Kyabigambire leaders appear unbothered. Godfrey Barugahara, the sub county chairman, admits in a telephone interview that he has not yet checked on the patients in Kibaire.

Barugahara says he only heard the reports on radio.

This comes as the district is recovering from a measles outbreak that left six people dead and more than 200 admitted in Kabwoya Sub County last month.

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