Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

This Wednesday, two more people have died due to a Sudan strain of Ebola called the Ebola hemorrhagic fever.  This brings the overall total of people who have died to from the disease to 16.  

“Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever,” wrote the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ugandan government in a joint statement.

The saddest of the news is that 9 of the deaths are reported to have occurred in one household.  A health clinic officer and her 4-month-old baby have also died since the latest outbreak.  Unfortunately for family members and healthcare officials that are caring for the sickened, they are the most likely to be infected as well.  The majority of those that died, and sickened, delayed seeking treatment because they believed that “evil spirits” were the culprits.

WHO spokesman Tariq Jasarevic has revealed that as many as 36 cases have been reported and the number is likely to keep climbing However, information is still being gathered and the investigation has just begun but an early examination of the strain has concluded that it is some form of a mutated strain of the virus.

Initial symptoms of the Ebola virus can easily be mistaken for other illness, like the flu, because they are quite similar.  Symptoms like a high fever, muscle pain, red eyes, rash, headaches, and sore throat are detected earlier on but soon after internal and external bleeding, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea help reveal the true nature of the disease.  

The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 in the African nation of Zaire.  The virus is named after a river in that country, where the first outbreak was found.  There are five species of Ebola viruses and all are named after the areas they were foun: Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Bundibugyo and Reston.  There also can be different strains of Ebola within each species.

In 2000, an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda killed 224 people and devastated thousands more.  There is no cure or vaccine for the disease that has a fatality rate of 90% according to the WHO.

Authorities believe that it is highly unlikely that the disease will spread to the United States, but other countries are a different story.  One suspected victim is reported to have traveled to Kampala for treatment in a Mulago Hospital and he died there on July 22.  Actions to detect people who may be carrying the virus, including raising awareness and screenings at airports and border crossings, have been “invigorated” since the disease was detected in western Uganda.  The WHO did not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Uganda because of the outbreak but most officials think that this will change in the coming weeks.