Investigation of a cluster of severe respiratory disease referred from Uganda to Kenya, February 2017

Paul Edward Okello, Robert Kaos Majwala, Rosalia Kalani, Benon Kwesiga, Susan Kizito, Steven N Kabwama, Lilian Bulage, Linus K Ndegwa, Melvin Ochieng, Julie R Harris, Elizabeth Hunsperger, Henry Kajumbula, Daniel Kadobera, Bao-Ping Zhu, Sandra S Chaves, Alex Riolexus Ario, Marc-Alain Widdowson

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


On February 22, 2017, Hospital X-Kampala and US CDC-Kenya reported to the Uganda Ministry of Health a respiratory illness in a 46-year-old expatriate of Company A. The patient, Mr. A, was evacuated from Uganda to Kenya and died. He had recently been exposed to dromedary camels (MERS-CoV) and wild birds with influenza A (H5N6). We investigated the cause of illness, transmission, and recommended control. We defined a suspected case of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) as acute onset of fever (≥38°C) with sore throat or cough and at least one of the following: headache, lethargy, or difficulty in breathing. In addition, we looked at cases with onset between February 1 and March 31 in a person with a history of contact with Mr. A, his family, or other Company A employees. A confirmed case was defined as a suspected case with laboratory confirmation of the same pathogen detected in Mr. A. Influenza-like illness was defined as onset of fever (≥38°C) and cough or sore throat in a Uganda contact, and as fever (≥38°C) and cough lasting less than 10 days in a Kenya contact. We collected Mr. A's exposure and clinical history, searched for cases, and traced contacts. Specimens from the index case were tested for complete blood count, liver function tests, plasma chemistry, Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, and MERS-CoV. Robust field epidemiology, laboratory capacity, and cross-border communication enabled investigation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Security
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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