Tanzania has reportedly requested medical professionals to look into a mysterious “communicable” illness that gripped seven and claimed the lives of five people there. The health ministry announced late Thursday night that “seven people with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, bleeding, and kidney failure” had the illness. According to health official Tumaini Nagu, medical professionals have been sent to the Kagera region (northwest) bordering Uganda to examine the “communicable” illness.
The government has sent a quick response team to the northwestern region of Kagera which borders Uganda to investigate the “communicable disease”, Tanzania’s top medical officer Tumaini Nagu said in the statement. The public was urged to maintain their composure while taking precautions to prevent infection. “Samples have been taken from the patients and the dead in an effort to identify the source and type of illness,” she said.
The investigation comes after an Ebola outbreak in Uganda that nearly lasted four months and claimed the lives of 55 people before the government proclaimed it to be over in January. Three individuals died from an outbreak of leptospirosis, also known as “rat fever,” that Tanzania discovered the previous year in the southeast of Lindi. Common ways for the bacterial infection to propagate include consuming water or food that has been contaminated with the urine of animals.
In Tanzania, outbreaks like this are nothing new. An illness that caused nosebleeds, fever, headaches, and fatigue was discovered in the Lindi area in July of last year. Aifello Sichalwe, the government’s top medical officer, organized a team of experts and advised the populace to maintain their composure in response.
Antibiotics can be used to address the illness, and recovery time ranges from a few days to a few weeks. However, if left untreated, the infection could take months to heal and pose a serious risk of renal and liver failure. 90% of cases are mild, but between 5% and 15% advance to a severe form that can result in organ failure or even death. Only 1% to 5% of instances have fatal outcomes.
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