Welcome to the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM) website.

The SASTM’s Mission is to guide the profession in all aspects relating to the practice of travel medicine, liaise with the travel industry, consult with relevant authorities, advise the public and collaborate nationally and internationally on all aspects relating to Travel Medicine. Click here to learn more.

SASTM Newsflash - Hepatitis B outbreak continues in Uganda


Group Email


SASTM Newsflash


Hepatitis B outbreak continues in Uganda


Public health officials in Uganda's West Nile region have expressed concern about [a] persistent outbreak of hepatitis B [virus infection] that has caused the deaths of at least 29 people. The officials said the illness is concentrated in the northwestern districts of Moyo and Adjumani and the number of cases appears to be on the rise. Most of the health facilities in the region lack the required vaccine and equipment needed to combat the illness, according to a report in the Daly Monitor newspaper.


Local residents have complained that a complete dose of hepatitis B vaccine remains too expensive at local private clinics.


Surveillance teams said the number of fatalities might be higher than 29 because many residents are forgoing treatment at public health facilities in favor of private ones that are not fully reporting the extent of infections.


Dr Dominic Drametu, the medical superintendent of Adjumani [district], said the district hospital has treated approximately 90 cases of the illness in the past 3 years. "On average the hospital handles at least 2 cases of hepatitis B every month but our challenge is that the facility lacks the required drugs," Drametu said,


Hepatitis B is a viral infection that predominantly affects the liver. It can vary in severity, lasting a few weeks or resulting in life-long health problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Communicated by: ProMED-mail


[Hepatitis B is a potentially life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is a major global health problem and the most serious type of viral hepatitis. It can cause chronic liver disease and puts people at high risk of death from cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. A vaccine against hepatitis B has been available since 1982. Hepatitis B vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection and its chronic consequences, and is the 1st vaccine against a major human cancer.


In developing countries, common modes of transmission are: perinatal (from mother to baby at birth), early childhood infections (in apparent infection through close interpersonal contact with infected household contacts), unsafe injection practices, unsafe blood transfusions and unprotected sexual contact. Hepatitis B virus is not spread by contaminated food or water, and cannot be spread casually in the workplace. The mode of transmission in the Moyo and Adjumani Districts of Uganda is unclear. Outbreaks of hepatitis B in Moyo district in 2011 and 2012 were reported previously in ProMED-mail, and it is clear the problem persists.


The incubation period of hepatitis B virus infection is 90 days on average, but can vary from 30 to 180 days. The virus may be detected 30 to 60 days after infection and persists for variable periods of time.




South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM)

Phone: +27 (011) 025 3297
Fax: +27 087 9411350 / 1
E-mail: admin@sastm.org.za
Website: www.sastm.org.za
Postal address: SASTM, PO Box 8216, Greenstone, 1616, South Africa
Physical address: SASTM, 27 Linksfield Road Block 2 a Dunvegan Edenvale
Registered as a Nonprofit Organisation 063-296-NPO


The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

Scroll to Top