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Uganda Virus Research Institute


United States Ambassador to Uganda William W Popp visits UVRI Plague Laboratory in Arua City.

The United States Ambassador to Uganda William W Popp has visited Uganda Virus Research Institute Plague Laboratory in Arua City, one of the collaborating partners funded by the United States government. Ambassador Popp visited a project field site (Andruvu village in Vurra sub-county Arua district) where he was briefed about how the USA funding has been helpful in controlling plague in the West Nile Region and other infections such as anthrax.

Arua and Zombo districts remain the active plague sites in Uganda. Additionally the increased cases of plague in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) places these two districts and seven other districts in West Nile region under high alert for plague due to the close proximity to the plague endemic Ituri Province in the DRC that currently has active plague cases. The Rethy Health Zone in the DRC has so far reported 128 cases of plague and 6 deaths since January 2024 and has recorded more than 881 cases and 24 deaths since 2021. Rethy Health Zone borders Nebbi district which neighbours Aura district.

The UVRI Plague project team demonstrated the traditional healers referral Network system and the Ratfall surveillance system that they established to prevent the spread of plague and other infections.

UVRI Plague Project Manager Linda Atiku told Ambassador Popp that the project has trained 65 traditional healers to identify and refer patients suspected of plague and other viral infections to health facilities for proper management. She said some people suspecting illness approach the traditional healers first for treatment before visiting health facilities. Traditional healers provide supportive care for common illnesses, but their care may delay diagnosis and management of illnesses that can lead to death and increase occupational risk to them. Additionally, she said that 83 Village Health Teams (VHTs) were trained to monitor and report plague in rodent populations for testing at the Plague Laboratory for early detection of plague and response.

Andruvu village has suffered several plague outbreaks in the past is about 3 kilometers from Ituri Province in DRC. The latest reported plague case in Uganda in 2019 originated from Ituri province. Madagascar is the leading country currently reporting plague cases followed by DRC and Peru.