Uganda confirms 7 Ebola cases, races to halt outbreak

Ugan­da has had mul­ti­ple Ebo­la out­breaks, in­clud­ing one in 2000 that killed more than 200 peo­ple

Ugan­da con­firmed sev­en Ebo­la in­fec­tions Thurs­day as au­thor­i­ties try to track down 43 con­tacts of known Ebo­la pa­tients two days af­ter au­thor­i­ties in the East African coun­try an­nounced an out­break of the con­ta­gious dis­ease.

A to­tal of eight deaths, in­clud­ing one con­firmed, are “at­trib­ut­able to the virus,” said Dr. Hen­ry Ky­obe, a Ugan­dan mil­i­tary of­fi­cer who is track­ing Ebo­la cas­es. He spoke of a “rapid­ly evolv­ing” sit­u­a­tion where “we think cas­es may rise in a few days.”

The epi­cen­ter of the out­break is the cen­tral Ugan­dan dis­trict of Mubende, whose main town lies along a high­way in­to the cap­i­tal, Kam­pala. That trav­el link and sev­er­al crowd­ed ar­ti­sanal gold mines there is con­cern­ing, Ky­obe told the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Ugan­dan au­thor­i­ties have not yet to found the source of the out­break, and nei­ther have they dis­cov­ered the key first case. But they were able to con­firm an Ebo­la out­break of the Su­dan type ear­li­er this week af­ter test­ing a sam­ple from a 24-year-old man who had been ini­tial­ly treat­ed for oth­er ill­ness­es, in­clud­ing malar­ia and pneu­mo­nia, when he sought care in his home town. Six oth­ers in the same area, in­clud­ing three chil­dren, died ear­li­er in Sep­tem­ber af­ter suf­fer­ing what lo­cal of­fi­cials called a strange ill­ness.

There is no proven vac­cine for the Su­dan strain of Ebo­la, and “its very crit­i­cal at this point that we treat this out­break as se­ri­ous, be­cause we may not have the ad­van­tage that we have gained in terms of the ad­vance­ment in med­ical coun­ter­mea­sures,” said Dr. Patrick Otim, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist with WHO in Africa.

Ebo­la, which is spread by con­tact with bod­i­ly flu­ids of an in­fect­ed per­son or con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed ma­te­ri­als, man­i­fests as a dead­ly he­m­or­rhag­ic fever. Symp­toms in­clude fever, vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea, mus­cle pain and at times in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal bleed­ing.

Sci­en­tists don’t know the nat­ur­al reser­voir of the virus, but they sus­pect the first vic­tim in an Ebo­la out­break gets in­fect­ed through con­tact with an in­fect­ed an­i­mal.

Ugan­da has had mul­ti­ple Ebo­la out­breaks, in­clud­ing one in 2000 that killed more than 200 peo­ple.

Last month au­thor­i­ties in Con­go said a new case of Ebo­la in the east­ern city of Beni was linked to a pre­vi­ous out­break.

Con­go’s 10th out­break of Ebo­la in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri killed more than 2,000 peo­ple from 2018 to 2020. Dur­ing that time, neigh­bor­ing Ugan­da re­port­ed some cas­es that au­thor­i­ties said were linked to the out­break in Con­go.

KAM­PALA, Ugan­da (AP)