Uganda’s Ministry of Health has confirmed an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus – with 16 reported dead – in the west of the landlocked country, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) announced today.
As of 28 November, there have been 51 suspected cases in Bundibugyo District, including three health care workers who were infected, with one fatality.
Those infected have been hospitalized in Kikyo and Bundibugyo.
The presence of a new species of the haemorrhagic virus in samples taken from cases associated with this outbreak has been confirmed by the United States National Reference Laboratories and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WHO and the Ministry of Health report that the outbreak could have occurred this September, based on initial field investigations.
A national task force – comprising WHO, the Ministry of Health and international partners – is coordinating the response, and the WHO country office is aiding the Ministry’s national field team and district health officials.
The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids 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 sore throats, as well as vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and impaired kidney and liver function. In the most severe cases, the virus can lead to both external and internal bleeding.