By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 5, 2012 (BENTIU) - Unity State health officials and the World Health Organization are struggling to contain an outbreak of Kala azar, a disease spread by sand fly bites, in Koch County, 90 kilometres south of the state capital Bentiu.
- Dr. Santino John Tabang Director general of Health Ministry in Unity State, 5 Sept. 2012 (ST/Bonifacio Taban)
Since 1 September, nearly 200 people are believed to be contracted Kala azar, with 84 being treated in Koch County Hospital for the potentially fatal disease that has already killed one person, Dr. Santino John Tabang director general of the state Ministry of Health told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
There was a previous Kala azar outbreak in Unity State in late 1980 during the civil war between Khartoum and former rebels who now govern the independent Republic of South Sudan.
South Sudan’s largest state, Jonglei, normally has the most Kala azar cases. After the current outbreak, Unity State is now ranked second.
Authorities are concerned about the spread of the disease, transmitted by sand flyies which live in bushy acacia trees, which are common in South Sudan. The World Health Organization has transported drugs to Koch County to help treat victims but there are a lack nurses and ward space to cope with the number of patients.
Unity State health officials say they are working to put up more tents.
“We can’t say if the cases are still on rise, so the capacity will be limited so we have a plan to put up tent in future so to accommodate if people are still going and the cases are still going and in term of human resources, we have human resources but we are thinking to send more teams more staffs so as to help”.
Dr. Tabang urged people to move away from bush areas in order to limit the transmission of the disease and encouraged people to use mosquitoes nets at night and in the evening to decrease the risk of being bitten.
The symptoms of Kala azar include fever, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Without proper treatment the mortality rate for kala-azar almost 100 percent.