Locally distilled alcohol kills 10 people in Kyotera

The killer liquor packed in small plastic bottles under the name ‘Eddekende waragi’ and others sold as 'Ddembelyo waragi'.

UGANDA: Kyotera District Health authorities have imposed a ban on the production and sale of locally distilled alcohol commonly known as Waragi after ten people in Kabira Sub County died from its consumption.

The victims who included eight adults and two children reportedly consumed the liquor that was alleged to have been laced with methanol; a toxic solvent which the distillers in villages mix with liquor as a cheap substitute for ethanol not knowing its severe consequences to people’s health.

The latest victim is Nathan Mugenyi, a former teacher at Bakka Primary School who before his death complained about the gin saying tasting differently compared to other brands of local alcohol he usually takes.

According to Kyotera District Health Officer, Dr Edward Muwanga, the health assistant of Kabira Health Centre III called his office after 10 residents died mysteriously in a space of two and half months in the villages of Kyanika A, B, C, D and Zziwa in Kabira Sub County.

“On August 8, we immediately formed a disease outbreak response team of epidemiologists, health educators and field coordinators from the World Health Organization who went to Kabira Sub County. The team visited the affected households and found one person still alive, but receiving care from a shrine,” Dr Muwanga said on Friday.

Dr Muwanga explained to this reporter that the victims before dying presented symptoms of body weakness, vomiting, profuse sweating, abdominal pain, swelling in the areas around the limbs, short breath and fever.

He adds that some victims died at their homes, shrines while others died in the small private clinics in the villages, as locals were attributing the deaths to witchcraft.

According to Muwanga, blood samples and urine were taken from the bodies of the deceased for toxicology testing while the liquor allegedly consumed by the victims was also taken to Uganda Virus Research Institute for analysis.

Preliminary investigations reveal that dealers selling the liquor have been packing the killer gin in small plastic bottles under the name ‘Eddekende’ and ‘Ddembelyo’ waragi names.

Following the latest unfortunate incident, police on Thursday combed various drinking joints in the district, and confiscated 1000 litres of waragi, while about 20 alcohol shops were ordered to close.

This was confirmed by Masaka Regional Police Spokesperson, Mr Twaha Kasirye who said that authorities have already identified the suppliers of the killer liquor and confiscated all ingredients and accessories used in making the local brew.

“The main suppliers are from Nabigasa Sub County in the same district and the leaders in the area have already been contacted to trace all the people doing this business,” he said.

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