News24

Scores isolated after new Ebola outbreak

2012-11-15 16:37

Kampala - Scores of Ugandans were isolated on Thursday to prevent the spread of a new outbreak of Ebola which has already killed three people.

Uganda has experienced increasingly regular outbreaks of deadly haemorrhagic fevers that have left health officials grappling for answers.

The new Ebola outbreak was confirmed in a district 60km from the Ugandan capital, Kampala on Wednesday.

The outbreak comes roughly a month after Uganda declared itself Ebola-free following an earlier outbreak in a remote district of western Uganda.

At least five people in a southwestern district of Uganda were last month killed by Marburg, a haemorrhagic fever similar to Ebola.

The latest Ebola outbreak, officials say, is of the Sudan strain of Ebola and not linked to the previous one, of the Congo variety, which killed at least 16 villagers in July and August in the western district of Kibaale.

In addition to the three dead in the latest outbreak, up to 15 are being monitored for signs of the disease, officials said.

They advised against panic after it was revealed that two possible Ebola patients had since checked into Kampala's main referral hospital.

Uganda's minister of health, Christine Ondoa, said: ""The Ministry of Health once again calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being undertaken to control the situation."

Ebola is especially feared in Uganda, where multiple outbreaks have occurred over the years and news of it can cause patients to flee hospitals to avoid infection.

Bereaved

In 2000, in one of the world's worst Ebola outbreaks, the disease infected 425 Ugandans and killed more than half of them in the country's north.

Another outbreak in 2007 killed 37 people in Bundibugyo, a remote district close to the Congolese border.
Ebola is highly infectious and kills quickly.

The virus can be transmitted through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person, or objects that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

During communal funerals, for example, when the bereaved come into contact with an Ebola victim, the virus can be contracted, officials said, warning against unnecessary contact with suspected cases of Ebola.

Nanyunja of WHO said Ugandans near the Ebola epicentre should practice what she called "social distancing," avoiding things such as handshakes and similar contact.