Update: Death Toll Rises To 19, 29 Hospitalized In Critical Conditions As Ministry Of Health Struggles To Contain Ebola Outbreak

Update: Death Toll Rises To 19, 29 Hospitalized In Critical Conditions As Ministry Of Health Struggles To Contain Ebola Outbreak

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By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Uganda’s health ministry is currently struggling to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease which has now spread to districts including Kampala, Kisoro, Kakumiro and Mubende.

According to the Ministry of Health, four new cases were confirmed as of Saturday bringing the total confirmed active cases on admissions to 29 and the suspected Ebola deaths have also increased exponentially from one to 19.

According to Ebola incident commander, Dr Henry Kyobe, the majority of the cases are in the epicentre Mubende, a city lying on a highway connecting Kampala and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

While the sub-counties of Madudu, Kiruuma, and Kasambya, have reported one or more confirmed and or suspected cases of Ebola.

Six suspected cases and one suspected Ebola death have been reported in Kyegegwa, and two more in Kisoro district. 20 other contacts of the victims have been listed and are being followed, according to health authorities.

“Perhaps more troubling is the one suspected Ebola death in Kampala, a district more than 140 kilometres from Mubende with a huge day and night population,” Dr. Kyobe said in an interview with Daily Monitor.

Dr Kyobe, who is also the deputy director of Uganda National Institute of Public Health (UNIPH) in the Health ministry, and Dr Issa Makumbi, the director of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC), warned that cases may continue to rise if communities do not cooperate with health workers.

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

Five of the virus species are known to cause disease in humans Zaire, Sudan, Bundibugyo, Reston and Tai Forest.

The first three have resulted in serious outbreaks in Africa.

The virus’ natural reservoir animal is suspected to be a species of fruit bat, which does not itself fall ill but can pass the disease on to primates, including humans. Humans become exposed to the virus if they kill or butcher infected bats for food.

Among humans, the virus is passed on by contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected or recently deceased person.

Those infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear. They become more and more contagious until just after their death, which poses great risks during funerals.

Death rates are high, at around 50 per cent on average of those infected, and up to 90 per cent for some epidemics, World Health Organization (WHO) data show.

Following an incubation period of between two and 21 days, Ebola develops into a high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat.

The initial symptoms are often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Merck’s Ervebo vaccine, the first Ebola jab approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2019, has been shown to be highly effective in protecting people from the Zaire strain.

US group Johnson & Johnson has also reported promising results against the Zaire strain of its two-dose Zabdeno vaccine, which has been authorised for use in the European Union.

In terms of treatment, the WHO in August recommended two life-saving medicines, Inmazeb and Ebanga, which were successfully trialled during Ebola outbreaks.

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