UGANDA: An Ebola outbreak has been declared in Uganda after health authorities confirmed a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain, the health ministry and World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.
“The confirmed case is a 24-year-old male… (who) presented with EVD symptoms and later succumbed,” the ministry wrote on Twitter, using an abbreviation for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
A 24-year-old male in Uganda’s central Mubende district showed symptoms of the disease and died thereafter. “This follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that have occurred in the district this month,” WHO said.
The health ministry’s permanent secretary, Diana Atwine spoke to reporters at a news conference and gave details about the outbreak. “We want to inform the country that we have an outbreak of Ebola which we confirmed yesterday,” she said.
She also notified the press about other symptoms of the case, detailing that the man experienced high fever, diarrhoea and abdominal pains, and was vomiting blood- all characteristic signs of the Ebola virus. He had initially been treated for malaria.
As per WHO’s Africa office and local health authorities, there are currently eight suspected cases undergoing medical treatment in a health facility. The office also added that it was partnering with Uganda’s health authorities in their investigation and deploying medical personnel to the affected area.
“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Africa’s regional director, said.
“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording the Ebola Sudan strain,” Dr Moeti added. “We are working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures.”
The WHO also notified that there had been seven previous outbreaks of the Ebola Sudan strain, four in Uganda and three in Sudan itself.
The last Ebola Sudan strain outbreak was reported in Uganda in 2012 while the Ebola Zaire strain emerged in 2019.
Moreover, the international health organization also said that ring vaccination of high-risk people with the Ervebo vaccine had been incredibly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere. This vaccination had previously been simply approved to protect against the Zaire strain.
The new Johnson & Johnson produced vaccine may be effective but is yet to be specifically tested against the Sudan strain, it added. Ebola is a near-fatal viral hemorrhagic fever.
The virus, whose natural host is the bat, first appeared in 1976 in the DRC (then Zaire) and has since then, set off a series of epidemics in Africa, wiping out nearly 15,000 people.
Human transmission of the virus is conducted through bodily fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.
The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.