Measles, scabies and more. Nasty old and new diseases.

Some days at St. Philip, it’s all colds, arthritis and high blood pressure. On those days I wonder why I bothered coming to Uganda, when I could have managed the same conditions in suburban Christchurch. Today was not one of those days. Some nasty old diseases have come back to haunt us, while new ones catch us unawares.

It should be a thing of the past “Two anyongo”

 It didn’t take long to figure out what was making Rubangakene miserable. Sore red eyes, a whole body rash, dry lips, a sore mouth…. A bad case of the measles. His mum is fantastic, understanding that he needs to make sure he keeps taking fluids, and to keep him away from other kids for the time being. She says it’s the third case in their village, and she’s going to get the local chief to hold a meeting to discuss it. The outbreak in Northern Uganda though, is rivaled by the one in New Zealand. I could have seen a case of measles in suburban Christchurch.

Red eyes.jpg

Strange times…

The old Itch – “Two gwenyo”

Poor Ochola was vigorously scratching his arms. I knew the problem before he even sat down. Ocola was the 20th poor soul we saw at St. Philips to be infected with scabies this month. Some people in Gulu have never seen Scabies, and the pesky mite hasn’t shown it’s ugly face in Gulu for at least 5 years. We don’t’ know how it got here. Some say it came from the refugee camps, but who knows? The only anti-scabies cream has been out of stock in Gulu pharmacies for a week, as the town adjusts to this new, yet old disease. Luckily we snaffled up some of the last drug delivery last ewek, so we can still treat Ochola. He’ll be all better soon.

Edited scabies.jpg

A new stroke of bad luck

Aged 60, Bongomin had never checked his blood pressure or blood sugar. They were both sky high this morning, and probably had been for years. This isn’t uncommon here, as the idea of a ‘check up’, coming to the doctor when you are not sick is a new paradigm. It seems unfair that a land struggling with malaria and HIV now also has our western diseases to deal as office jobs, fried food and sugary treats clog up arteries.

Bongomin’s family were terrified when last night he suddenly became weak and started slurring his words

This morning Bongomin struggles to slur a few words together, but thankfully there’s no body weakness and I tell his family there’s a good chance he’ll recover. In New Zealand, we’d do a CT scan to see if the stroke was caused by a blood clot, or bleeding. In Uganda though there’s no scan north of the Nile, an incredible anomaly that thankfully may be rectified soon. This means I can’t even start him on aspirin yet, as it would be too risky in case his brain is bleeding and I make it worse. Luckily he lives close by and has a little money, so he can come back every couple of days to monitor his blood pressure and sugar, and we can even test his lipids. Small mercies.


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3 Responses to Measles, scabies and more. Nasty old and new diseases.

  1. Keep up the good work, Dr. Nick. Hope to see you in a few weeks! Blessings!

  2. Peter Hill says:

    Scabies reminds me of Birmingham – Measles, that was a long time ago when common but now being seen again here.

    Thanks for the update. In our thoughts and prayers.

    • ntlaing says:

      True, it’s easy to forget that many of these diseases were rife in Western countries not that long ago! Praying for you guys too. Amazing memories and some of our best times in England with you and Carol!

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