Archive Number 20101211.4413
Published Date 11-DEC-2010
Subject PRO/EDR> Undiagnosed disease - Tanzania: (KA), RFI
UNDIAGNOSED DISEASE - TANZANIA: (KAGERA), REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 11 Dec 2010
Source: Daily News online, Tanzania [edited]
Journalists stricken by 'mysterious' disease
A mysterious disease has hit 2 journalists here in the Kagera Region
-- one employed by the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) and
the other a free-lancer with Radio Free Africa/Star TV -- causing
them to be partially paralyzed for more than a month now.
The duo reportedly developed symptoms similar to those of a stroke
which 1st attacked the Radio Free Africa reporter a few days before
the 31 Oct 2010 elections. A few days later the TBC reporter was
struck down by the disease, according to close relatives. The duo
have since been admitted to Bukoba Regional Hospital where the
hospital authorities have been tight-lipped [avoiding] comment on the
A stroke, also known medically as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA),
is a consequence of rapidly developing loss of brain function due to
blood [clots forming in the brain]. This could be due to ischemia
(lack of blood flow) caused by blockage (thrombosis, arterial
embolism) or a haemorrhage. As a result the affected area of the
brain is unable to function, leading to inability to move one or more
limbs on one side of the body, inability to understand or formulate
speech, or an inability to see one side of the visual field.
The news about the journalists' unknown disease [illness] has left
some people here terrified especially after reports on the outbreak
of a mysterious disease in neighbouring Uganda. This disease is
reported to have killed 38 people in the Agago, Abim and Kitgum
districts in northern Uganda so far, and medical tests have so far
failed to identify it.
The Ugandan Ministry of Health said the preliminary tests had ruled
out ebola [haemorrhagic fever], typhoid and several other diseases.
It said some test results suggested it might be plague, but further
tests were being carried out. The Ugandan patients complain of a
severe headache and dizziness, which eventually give way to diarrhoea
The [Ugandan?] Ministry said that a full recovery was possible if
people sought medical help in early stages. It said the results
suggesting that it was plague were not consistent with findings by
medical workers on the ground. The [Ugandan] Ministry had advised
people not to eat meat from sick domestic and wild animals and to
take precautions such as washing hands regularly. The illness was 1st
reported on 10 Nov 2010, and more than 90 people have been treated.
The Ministry said it lasted for between 2 and 10 days, and that the
vomit and diarrhoea contained blood.
The Kagera Region [of Tanzania] is also on high polio alert following
reports that areas neighboring The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
risked a major resurgence of the disease after 63 cases were
discovered this year.
The warning came after neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville [Republic of
Congo] earlier last month [November 2010] said an epidemic had killed
169 people since October, a decade after the disease was considered
to have been eradicated there.
Sources at the Kagera Regional Hospital told the 'Daily News' that
health officials were undertaking 24-hour surveillance at all entry
points to check new polio and amoebic dysentery cases. The entry
points include Rusumo and Kabanga, in Ngara district, Kaisho and
Murongo, in Karagwe district, Kyaka and Mutukula, in Misenyi district.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious disease caused by a
virus. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in
a matter of hours. The virus enters the body through the mouth and
multiplies in the intestines. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue,
headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One
in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the
legs). Among those paralysed, 5 to 10 percent die when their
breathing muscles become immobilized.
[Byline: Meddy Mulisa]
via ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[It is unclear from the information available whether the undiagnosed
disease affecting the 2 journalists is infectious, or whether these
stroke-like illnesses are independent events. However, the proximity
of the Kagera region of Tanzania to the northern region of Uganda
where a so far undiagnosed disease is spreading is a cause for alarm,
as is the resurgence of poliomyelitis in the Congo region of Africa.
The symptoms of the illness afflicting the 2 journalists are more
comparable with poliomyelitis in previously unimmunised adults rather
than the relatively undefined symptoms exhibited by the Ugandan
patients. Further information on the characterisation and etiology of
the disease affecting the 2 journalists is requested.