Unidentified illness hits Uganda

International health experts are working closely with Uganda to identify an unclassified illness that has claimed the lives of 38 people in the north of the country.

The illness, which causes severe headaches and vomiting, was first detected on November 10 in certain districts in central northern Uganda. Though it was first identified as bubonic plague, the results for plague have come back negative, AFP reports.

“The results we have received from Fort Collins are negative for bubonic plague,” an official from the ministry’s Epidemiology and Surveillance Division said, according to AFP. “If this was a typical plague, we would have found that out by now. We just haven’t seen a disease like this before.”

All previous incidents of the plague in Uganda has occurred in the West Nile region, further west than the recent outbreak. Symptoms are also not similar to plague outbreaks, which include inflammation in specific body parts, like the armpit. The symptoms of the unidentified disease include severe headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and dizziness.

Specialists from the CDC headquarters in Atlanta and the World Health Organization’s Africa regional office are on their way to join the Uganda-based CDC staff.

“We simply don’t have the information to conclude what this disease is yet, but we are working around the clock, literally 24 hours,” the official said, according to AFP.