64 Landslide Victims Admitted with Suspected Cholera

1252 Views Bududa, Eastern Region, Uganda
64 landslide victims in Bududa have been taken ill since yesterday night with a disease suspected to be cholera. The sick, 36 of them children, are admitted at Bukalasi Health Center, the only medical unit in close proximity to a tented camp where 900 landslide victims have been relocated. Margaret Kakai, the nursing officer in charge of Bukalasi Health Center, says the sick were admitted with diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, all symptoms of cholera. The last patient was admitted at about 9 a.m. this morning. A team of medical workers from Bududa town visited the camp early this afternoon and took samples from five people, which will be tested to identify the disease. Nurse Kakai says it is likely that the sick are not being afflicted to cholera. She says some of the patients told her they were given bottles of water purifying chemicals, which they did not know how to use. Instead of pouring the chemical in small quantities into the water, they drank directly from the bottle, thinking it was glucose, possibly poisoning themselves. Still, the possibility that cholera has broken out in the camp hasn't been ruled out. For several days after Monday's landslides people lived out in the open, drinking from water contaminated with rotting animal carcasses and human waste. The camp in Bukalasi has only one pit latrine to serve 900 people and natural springs, from which water is being fetched are in a poor state. 58-year-old Silas Kisolo says long queues are formed outside the pit latrine with people jostling to enter it before others. He says he is forced to wait for a long time to use the facility. Edith Muhame says she fears for the health of her nine-month-old child. She says many children are easing themselves in the field and the compound of the school where they are camped. She wants urgent action to be taken to build more sanitary facilities. The slow construction of the tented camp is another source of frustration. The displaced families have been living in classrooms with no windows or protection from the rain and the cold. Kevin Nabutwa, eastern coordinator of the Red Cross, says the few tents available have been taken up by district officials and some NGOs monitoring the rescue process. She says an appeal for more tents for the landslide victims has been slow in bearing fruit.