Risk factors for hematemesis in Hoima and Buliisa Districts, Western Uganda, September-October 2015

  • Steven Ndugwa Kabwama
  • Richardson Mafigiri
  • Stephen Balinandi
  • Atek Kagirita
  • Alex Ario Riolexus
  • Bao-Ping Zhu
Keywords: Hematemesis, outbreak, case-control, Uganda


Introduction: On 17 September 2015, Buliisa District Health Office reported multiple deaths due to haemorrhage to the Uganda Ministry of Health. We conducted an investigation to verify the existence of an outbreak and to identify the disease nature, mode of transmission and risk factors.

Methods: We defined a suspected case as onset of hematemesis between 1 June 2015 and 15 October 2015 in a resident of Hoima, Buliisa or neighbouring districts. We identified cases by reviewing medical records and actively searching in the community. We interviewed casepatients and health-care workers and performed descriptive epidemiology to generate hypotheses on possible exposures. In a case-control study we compared exposures between 21 cases and 81 controls, matched by age (± 10 years), sex and village of residence. We collected 22 biological specimens from 19 case-patients to test for Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers (VHF). We analysed the data using the Mantel-Haenszel method to account for the matched study design.

Results: We identified 56 cases with onset from June to October (attack rate 15/100,000 in Buliisa District and 5.2/100,000 in Hoima District). The age-specific attack rate was highest in persons aged 31-60 years (15/100,000 in Hoima and 47/100,000 in Buliisa); no persons below 15 years of age had the illness. In the case-control study, 42% (5/12) of cases vs. 0.0% (0/77) of controls had liver disease (ORM-H = ∞; 95%CI = 3.7-∞); 71% (10/14) of cases vs. 35% (28/81) of controls had ulcer disease (ORM-H = 13; 95% CI = 1.6-98); 27% (3/11) of cases vs. 14% (11/81) of controls used indomethacin prior to disease onset (ORM-H = 6.0; 95% CI = 1.0-36). None of the blood samples were positive for any of the VHFs.

Conclusion: This reported cluster of hematemesis illness was due to predisposing conditions and use of Non- Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID). Health education should be conducted on the danger of NSAIDs misuse, especially in persons with predisposing conditions.

Keywords: Hematemesis, outbreak, case-control, Uganda


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eISSN: 1937-8688