Health News of Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Source: The Ghanaian Chronicle

Outbreak of whooping cough in Dormaa

Reports reaching The Chronicle in Sunyani speak of an outbreak of Whooping Cough in the Dormaa West district. According to reports, an Assemblyman for Yaakrom, Francis Kwadwo Oppong had already reported the outbreak to the Health Directorate.

Ms. Florence Iddrisah, Dormaa Central Municipal Director of Health, addressing a Municipal Health Management Committee meeting at Dormaa-Ahenkro disclosed that, on September 17, 2012, Mr. Oppong sent an SOS message to the Directorate about the outbreak, which affected children between the ages of six months and 12 years.

She said the Directorate quickly responded and sent personnel from the Disease Control Unit to ascertain the cause of the outbreak.

“A total of 83 children were interviewed under the guidance of their parents, and guardians and the signs and symptoms common to all the respondents indicated an outbreak of Whooping Cough,” Ms Iddrisah added.

Ms. Iddrisah said when the disease was clinically confirmed, 71 of those affected were treated, but 12 of them could not be traced due to change of location. She announced that cases of non-communicable diseases had reduced in the first quarter of 2013 as compared to the same period in 2012.

Hypertension cases reduced from 852 to 820 and Diabetes from 195 to 146 while anaemia in children under five years reduced from 89 to 64 during the same period.

The Municipal Health Management Committee commended Mr. Oppong for his vigilance and urged other assemblymen and women and communities to emulate his shining example to nib the emergence of any communicable disease in the bud.

In a related issue, the Dormaa Central Municipal Health Directorate has launched a newsletter on disease surveillance to provide data on diseases, events and situational report on public health to the people.

The four-page quarterly newsletter “Municipal Watch” would in addition, disseminate information on all surveillance activities to the appropriate quarters for prevention and control.

The newsletter, the first of its kind in the health sector in the Brong-Ahafo Region, would publish reports, analysis and interpretation of data on communicable diseases including HIV and AIDS, Buruli Ulcer, Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), Influenza, Filariasis and Cerebrospinal Meningitis (CSM).

Ms Florence Iddrisah, launching the newsletter at the Municipal Health Management Committee meeting said even though surveillance activities had been on-going in the Municipality, reports on them had not been widely circulated.

She said if the objective of surveillance on communicable diseases was to detect, prevent and control, then the system should be community-based, participatory and closely integrated to ensure that no gaps were left for any such diseases to hide and flourish.

“Our directorate believes that healthy communities begin with effective surveillance of diseases and events that occur within them and what immediate steps were necessary to address them,” Ms Iddrisah added.

Ms Iddrisah pointed out that constant and intensive surveillance coupled with regular publication of data on findings would go a long way to educate communities on identification, mode of transmission and preventive measures for any communicable diseases detected.

She said until 2010, communities within the Municipality perceived zero cases for Buruli Ulcer, but a search conducted towards the end of the year revealed 29 cases out of which 26 were confirmed positive by the Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research at the University of Ghana, Legon.

In addition, 49 Buruli Ulcer cases were detected in the Municipality in 2011 with 12 confirmed and 47 cases in 2012 with six confirmed. Ms Iddrisah said the next edition would concentrate on “Epidemiology-Prevalence, Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis”.

In another development, information reaching The Chronicle from the various districts in the Brong-Ahafo region indicates that the Veterinary Sponsored programmes to undertake surveillance or monitoring in rural areas to vaccinate animals free of charge against rabies has ceased due to lack of funds.

Dr. Kenneth Gbeddy, Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of Veterinary Services who disclosed this to Journalists in Sunyani, noted that the abolishing of the surveillance and vaccination of animals against rabies poses a major threat to humanity.

He said two people died from an outbreak of rabies in the Asunafo North and South Districts between February and April this year 2013, adding that, two people also died from rabies in the Tano North and South Districts of the region last year. According to him, veterinary officers were undertaking vaccination exercise to bring the situation under control.

Dr. Gbeddy pointed out that the Service was concerned about rabies because there was no treatment and cure when bitten by an infected animal. He explained that rabies could infect all mammals namely dogs, cats, horses and cattle when they come in contact with infected wildlife.

Dr. Gbeddy appealed to the general public to ensure that their pets especially dogs and cats were vaccinated annually against the disease to avert any future occurrences.

He advised people who might be bitten by dogs or cats, to rush to the nearest hospital for vaccination and careful examination to save their lives and explained that the two people died because they reported to the hospital late.

Dr. Gbeddy said any dog that bite a person should not be killed but must be chained by the owner for two weeks to be monitored because dogs infected with rabies would die 10 days after the biting.

He said after the dog had died the person bitten should be vaccinated against rabies since any delay could cause the person’s life. He pointed out that strayed dogs in the communities were dangerous and should be captured and killed under the assemblies’ bye-laws.

Dr. Gbeddy mentioned aggressive dogs; dogs hiding in dark places, dogs that bite any animal on sight, dripping of saliva from the mouth and sudden change of barking were some of the signs of dogs infected with rabies.

He asked the general public to report such sudden changes in their dogs to the veterinary personnel to eliminate them from the communities since their presence was a threat to human life. Dr. Gbeddy noted that dogs and cats were human friends and needed to be cared for to make their stay in the communities comfortable.