Deadly outbreak of Ebola virus in Uganda worsens, says UN health agency

7 December 2007

The number of suspected cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in western Uganda has almost doubled in the past 10 days, and four health-care workers are now among the fatalities, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

The number of suspected cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in western Uganda has almost doubled in the past 10 days, and four health-care workers are now among the fatalities, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

There are 93 suspected cases in Uganda’s Bundibugyo District, up from 51 cases on 28 November, and laboratory analysis has confirmed the presence of a new species of the virus in nine cases.

WHO said in an update on the outbreak released today that there have been at least 22 fatalities so far, including the four health-care workers.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), WHO and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Médecins Sans Frontières are helping the Ugandan health authorities with logistics, the provision of drugs and personal protection equipment to deter the spread of the infection.

Ugandan officials are also stepping up their public awareness campaign to alert local communities to the outbreak and the importance of hygienic practices, including in burying victims. Isolation wards have also been established at hospitals in Kikyo and Bundibugyo.

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.

 

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