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By Goodluck Musinguzi

The World Health Organization (WHO) has joined the fight against the new Ebola virus disease outbreak in Uganda, boosting the efforts of the Ministry of Health to stop the contagion.

Health authorities in Uganda declared an outbreak of Ebola after a case of the Sudan ebolavirus was confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country.

WHO is helping Ugandan health authorities with the investigation and is deploying staff to the affected area.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus. 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,” Dr Rebecca Natalie Moeti Matshidiso, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement.

The Organization has dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and is sending a tent that will be used to isolate patients.

The Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old male.

This follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that have occurred in the district this month.

There are currently eight suspected cases who are receiving care in Mubende according to officials.

Ebola Virus

Dr Matshidiso expressed confidence in the ability of Uganda’s sector to deal with the latest outbreak.

“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” she said.

There have been four previous outbreaks of the Sudan ebolavirus in Uganda with the last case reported in 2012.

In 2019, the country experienced an outbreak of Zaire ebolavirus that was imported from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo which was battling a large epidemic in its north-eastern region.

WHO notes that while ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire virus.

Another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan.

With case fatality rates of the Sudan virus varying from 41% to 100% in past outbreaks, early initiation of supportive treatment remains the most reliable means to significantly reduce deaths from Ebola.

Already the ministry of health’s permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, has asked the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases by calling Ministry of Health toll free line on 0800- 100- 066.

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