Death toll from Ebola outbreak in Uganda reaches 16
NYANSWIGA, UGANDA (BNO NEWS) — The death toll as a result of a severe outbreak of Ebola in midwestern Uganda has risen to at least sixteen, health officials said on late Friday. Hundreds of people are being monitored but authorities believe the outbreak is now under control.
The Ugandan Ministry of Health said 53 people are believed to have been infected with Ebola haemorrhagic fever, including sixteen people who have since died. Five of the cases, three of them fatal, have so far been laboratory confirmed to be Ebola by the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe.
The majority of the cases have been recorded in Nyanswiga, a village in Nyamarunda sub-county in Kibaale district, where nine members of a family died as a result of Ebola. Four people who attended to the deceased at the regional Kagadi Hospital also died, including a clinical worker who passed away after being referred to Mulago Hospital in the capital Kampala. Her three-month-old daughter also died of suspected Ebola.
The ministry raised the number of fatalities to sixteen on Friday after two people died earlier this week, although they are all from Kibaale district, indicating that the disease is not spreading. A total of 37 suspected Ebola cases have also been identified, of whom 32 have been admitted to an isolation facility at Kagadi hospital.
A total of 312 people who had contact with the Ebola victims have so far been identified, and 253 of them are being monitored. “Among the contacts being monitored daily are the seven health workers who attended to the fatal case transferred to Mulago Hospital,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Friday. “None of them has so far developed symptoms of the disease.”
The outbreak is believed to have begun around July 6, but it was not immediately noticed by national health authorities because villagers blamed the illness on “evil spirits”. This caused unrest in the village of Nyanswiga, requiring local police officers to intervene to prevent violence.
Ebola is a highly infectious disease and kills its victims in a very short time, but the virus can easily be confused with many other diseases. The signs and symptoms include high grade fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, measles-like rash, red eyes, and in some cases bleeding from body openings.
The virus, for which there is no cure or vaccine, can spread through direct contact with body fluids such as saliva, blood, stool, vomit, urine and sweat, but also through soiled linen used by an infected person. It can also spread by using skin piercing instruments previously used by an infected person or by touching the dead body of a person who died of Ebola.
The last known case of Ebola was reported in May 2011 when a 12-year-old girl died in a town near the Ugandan capital of Kampala. Despite initial fears of an epidemic, and the Kenyan Ministry of Health issuing an alert to people living near the Ugandan border, no other cases were recorded.