Uganda reports first Ebola death since 2019

Uganda’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday announced the country’s first death from the highly contagious Ebola virus since 2019, declaring an outbreak in the central district of Mubende.

“The confirmed case is a 24-year-old male…(who) exhibited symptoms of EVD and subsequently succumbed,” the ministry said on Twitter, using an abbreviation for Ebola virus disease.

In a statement released earlier on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said a 24-year-old man in Mubende had tested positive for “the relatively rare Sudanese strain” of the virus.

“This follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response Team into six suspected deaths in the district this month,” the WHO said. said.

Eight other suspected patients were on treatment, the WHO said.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda has recorded the Ebola Sudan strain,” WHO Africa Director Matshidiso Moeti said.

READ ALSO : DR Congo reports new Ebola case in restive east

“We are working closely with national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting efforts to rapidly deploy effective control measures.”

There have been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudanese strain, including four times in Uganda and three times in Sudan, the WHO said.

Uganda – which shares a porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – has experienced several Ebola outbreaks in the past, the most recent in 2019, when at least five people died.

Last month, the DRC recorded a new case in its violence-torn east, less than six weeks after the declared end of an epidemic in the northwest of the country.

Currently, there are no licensed drugs to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands of people have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighboring countries.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero told AFP that authorities had started vaccinating frontline workers, including customs officers, at the border with DRC.

“While investigations into the confirmed case are ongoing, we have intensified surveillance and contact tracing of the confirmed case,” Aceng said, adding that they have deployed 12,000 doses of the Ebola vaccine.

– Often deadly –

Ebola is an often fatal viral hemorrhagic fever. The mortality rate is generally high, up to 90% in some epidemics, according to the WHO.

First identified in 1976 in the DRC (then Zaire), the virus, whose natural host is bats, has since sparked a series of epidemics in Africa, killing around 15,000 people.

Human transmission is through bodily fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhea.

Epidemics are difficult to contain, especially in urban settings.

Infected people only become contagious after the appearance of symptoms, ie after an incubation period of 2 to 21 days.

West Africa’s worst outbreak between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 people alone. The DRC has experienced more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.