UN and partners support operations to respond to Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Dr. Sam Zaramba (left), Director General of the Ministry of Health of Uganda, and Dr. Georges Melville, WHO Representative in Uganda, prepare to visit patients in the Ebola isolation ward at the Bundibugyo hospital. WHO/P. Formenty

30 July 2012 – A team of experts from the United Nations health agency and its partners are supporting the Ugandan Government’s response to an Ebola outbreak in the western part of the country.

Over the weekend, Uganda’s Ministry of Health notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in the Kibaale district. A total of 20 cases, including 14 deaths have been reported since the beginning of July.

“A team of experts from the Ministry of Health, WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in Kibaale to support the response operations,” WHO said in a news release.

“All possible contacts that were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases since 6 July 2012 are being identified for active follow up,” the agency added. “The necessary supplies and logistics required for supportive management of patients are being mobilized.”

The initial case was identified in a family from the village of Nyanswiga, where nine of the deaths were recorded. The deceased include a clinical officer who attended to a patient, and her four month-old child. Nine of the 14 deaths have occurred in a single household, according to WHO.

Currently, two patients are hospitalized and are in stable condition. Both cases were admitted to hospital with fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. However, neither of the cases has so far shown bleeding, a symptom that often appears in viral haemorrhagic fever patients.

Uganda has previously experienced outbreaks of Ebola fever, but the most recent outbreak was declared over in early 2008.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, other bodily fluids or organs of infected persons or animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys and antelopes, and it has an incubation period of two to 21 days.

Sufferers can experience fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headaches and a sore throat, as well as vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and impaired kidney and liver function. In the most severe cases, the virus leads to both external and internal bleeding.

In its news release, WHO added that it does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions are applied to Uganda.


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