UGANDA: “RED EYE” DISEASE OUTBREAK FORCES PRISON AUTHORITY TO SUSPEND VISITATION TO INMATES
Internet sample of red Eye disease
“We have temporarily suspended people from the community from visiting inmates in these prison facilities over the outbreak of the “Red Eye” disease in these prisons”
“As the disease is associated with personal hygiene, we found it fitting to suspend visitors to our prison facilities, as a measure to stop the spread of the epidemic to the community”,
GULU: The Uganda Prison Services has announced the suspension of visits to inmates at Gulu prisons, northern Uganda, over reported cases of “Red Eye” disease at prison facilities.
The announcement to temporarily suspend visits to inmates in Gulu Central Prison, Pece Prison, Lugore Prison and Pece Remand Home for juveniles was made by Mr. Allan Okello, the Northern Region Prison Commander, during an interview with a local radio station, Mega FM on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.
“We have temporarily suspended people from the community from visiting inmates in these prison facilities over the outbreak of the “Red Eye” disease in these prisons”, Mr. Allan Okello told Mega FM radio station.
“Red Eye” disease is a cardinal sign of ocular inflammation, which can be caused by several conditions, including sub-conjunctival hemorrhage defined as blood between the conjunctiva and the sclera.
“As the disease is associated with personal hygiene, we found it fitting to suspend visitors to our prison facilities, as a measure to stop the spread of the epidemic to the community”, says Mr. Okello. “We should wash our hands regularly and avoid handshakes”, he adds.
The outbreak of Red Eye disease was first reported to the media at the Northern Uganda Media Club (NUMEC) on Friday, December 23, 2016 by the Gulu district chairman, Mr. Ojara Martin Mapenduzi; during which he said 854 cases had so far been reported in prison facilities in the district, including at police cells.
“Since October, 2016, we have so far registered 854 cases of Red Eye disease in our prisons and police cells. You can detect the disease through eye itching, redness of the eyes, discharge and burning sensation”, says Mr. Mapenduzi.
According to Dr. Ben Masiira, an Epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health headquarters, the rate of transmission of the Red Eye disease is very high and thanked the local leaders for informing his ministry in time about the epidemic.
“Red Eye disease can be cured if reported early. But it can lead to death or blindness if you delay in accessing treatment”, says Dr. Masiira, adding that samples of the tears of the affected inmates have been taken to Ministry of Health headquarters to determine if it is caused by virus or bacteria.
“Red Eye disease can be caused by, either bacteria or virus, which lives in the tears of the affected person. We have so far ruled out bacteria as caused, but we taken samples to our laboratory and we are expecting results in five days”, says Dr. Masiira.
He allayed fears that there is a relationship between Red Eye disease and River Blindness, a disease caused by tsetse flies.
“There is no relationship between Red Eye disease and River blindness. We are treating Red Eye using antibiotics and patients are responding well to treatments”, says Dr. Masiira.
History of Red Eye Epidemic in Gulu prisons.
According to Mr. Santos Okot-Lapolo, the Gulu Resident District Commissioner, the first reported case of Red Eye disease was in Gulu Central Police Station were a suspect from Layibi division, who had the disease was brought and detained in the police cells. He infected others and when these infected suspects appeared in court and were remanded in Gulu prison, they spread the disease to other inmates.
“The disease was spread through police cells as a result of arrest of a suspected infected. Those infected at the police cells later transferred the disease to prison facilities where there are many more inmates around Gulu town”, says RDC Lapolo.
He appealed to prison authorities to control visiting hours to inmates; and if possible have disinfectants ready for visitors.
“We need extra care by all of us. Let us make sure that all suspects released are Red Eye free”, says Lapolo.
According to the Prison Commander, Mr. Okello, there are still 575 cases of Red eye disease in Gulu Prisons.