Ebola outbreak spark fears in the region

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By John Barigye & Robert Mugabe

Both Ministry of Health (MoH) of Uganda and World Health Organisation [WHO] have confirmed the outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Kibaale district in the western part of the country, now spreading in the city of Kampala.

WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions are applied to Uganda as fears spreads the region.

Ebola Symptoms include; Sore throat, severe headache, muscle aches, Diarrhea Vomiting, Dehydration, dry hacking cough, Stomach pain

More than 20 cases, including 14 deaths have been reported since the beginning of July this year in Uganda. The index case was identified in a family from Nyanswiga village, Nyamarunda sub-county of Kibaale district, where nine of the deaths were recorded.

The deceased include a clinical officer who attended to a patient, and her four month-old child. Nine of the 14 deaths have occurred in a single household.

Laboratory confirmation was done by the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe.

Currently, two patients are hospitalized and are in stable condition. The first is a 38 year-old female who attended to her sister, the clinical officer who died.

She was admitted to the hospital on 26 July 2012. The second is a 30 year-old female who participated in conducting the burial of the index case. She was admitted to the hospital on 23 July 2012.

Following reported outbreak of the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever in neighboring Uganda, the Government of Rwanda has put in place stringent measures that will ensure the safety of Rwandan from this deadly virus

“Though no case has been reported in Rwanda for the 15 years, government has put in place measures aimed at protecting Rwandans from this deadly disease but is also cautioning Rwandans to remain vigilant and report any suspected cases immediately.” Arthur Asiimwe, DG in Rwanda’s Health Ministry said

Kenya authorities have told there people to be vigilant while traveling to Uganda.

A team of experts from MoH, WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is in Kibaale to support the response operations.

All possible contacts that were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases since 6 July 2012 are being identified for active follow up. The necessary supplies and logistics required for supportive management of patients are being mobilized.

Kibaale hospital has established a temporary isolation ward for suspected, probable and confirmed cases. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Holland, has mobilized necessary requirements for setting up isolation centre at the hospital.

In Bunagana border of DR Congo and Uganda border traders are told to be alert and avoid physical contacts

The MoH and Mulago Hospital have mobilized some staff to manage the isolation centre but more are urgently needed.

The MoH has advised the public to take measures to avert the spread of the disease and to report any suspected patient to the nearest health unit.

How to protect yourself

Isolate suspected cases from other patients

Wear gloves, goggles and masks while handling patients

Patients’ clothing should be disinfected with household bleach such as JIK

Areas contaminated with patient’s fluids should be disinfected with household bleach such as JIK

Avoid touching the bodies of those who have died of Ebola

People who have died from Ebola should be promptly and safely buried

Cause: Ebola is caused by a virus belonging to a family called filovirus. There are five distinct types of the virus namely Ebola Zaire, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Côte d’Ivoire, Ebola Bundibugyo and Ebola Reston.

Transmission: The disease is transmitted through direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, fluids or bodies of infected persons. Family members and health workers handling the patients can become infected easily if they do not wear protective facilities such as gloves and masks. Ebola is not air borne.

Symptoms: The average incubation period is 21 days. The disease is characterised by sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is often followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.

Treatment: No specific treatment or vaccine is yet available for Ebola haemorrhagic fever. There is neither a cure nor a vaccine for Ebola. The patients are given symptomatic treatment to reduce pain and prevent dehydration. Several potential vaccines and drugs are being tested but it could take years before any is available.

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