EBOLA OUTBREAK IN UGANDA: MINISTRY OF HEALTH RULES OUT TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

Dr Diana Atwine, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health

BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

ARUA: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

The ministry of health has ruled out any travel restrictions within or outside Uganda as a result of the confirmed outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Mubende district.

The ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine, in a statement has instead urged the public to be vigilant and report any suspected cases immediately by calling Ministry of Health toll free line on 0800- 100- 066.

She said the ministry has instituted preliminary containment measures to control the outbreak in the district and the surrounding areas.

Press Statement – Ebola Outbreak in Mubende District – 20 September 2022

“The ministry calls upon the population across the country, and Mubende sub-region to remain calm but remain vigilant to report any suspected case to the nearest health facility for assessment,” she added.

The ministry has urged all health workers to have the highest index of suspicion and maintain heightened safety precautions.

Private clinics are encouraged to observe the Standard Operating Procedures and report any suspected case to the nearest district health authorities for further investigations and management.

The cases

Dr Atwine elaborated that on the September 15, 2022, one suspected case-patient of Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) was identified and isolated in Mubende Regional Referral Hospital.

The suspected case-patient was a 24-year-o1d male who lived in Ngabano village of Madiidu Sub-County in Mubende District.

He was a referral from St. Johns Medical Clinic in East Division of Mubende Municipality where he had just been referred.

The patient presented with high grade fever, convulsions, blood-stained vomitus and diarrhea, loss of appetite and pain on swallowing. He also presented with chest pain, dry cough, and bleeding in the eyes.

“While in the isolation unit at Mubende RRH, he developed yellowing of eyes, tea colored urine and complained of abdominal pain on September 17, 202 2. The clinical team took a sample from the patient having suspected a VHF. The sample was received at the VHF laboratory at Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) on September 18, 2022, and results released on the September 19, 2022 confirmed Ebola (Sudan strain) infection.”

Ebola Virus

A suspected case of Ebola may present with a sudden onset fever fatigue, chest pain, diarrhea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding and yellowing of the eyes.

The incubation period for Ebola Sudan variant is 2-21 days and like all other Ebola strains, this is a serious disease with significant morbidity and mortality.

The confirmed index case reportedly passed on early Monday morning and the body of the is still being kept there awaiting safe burial.

Dr Atwine said more information is still being gathered concerning the possible source of infection and contacts for this confirmed case.

This is the second Ebola-Sudan strain in Uganda after the first case was reported in Luwero district in 2012 but without secondary transmissions.

Unexplained deaths

Since the beginning of the Month, the District Rapid Response team in Mubende has been investigating suspicious cases of suspected viral hemorrhagic fever following reports of six strange illness and deaths in Kiruma and Madudu sub-counties.

These were three adults and three children who died between September 1 and September 15, 2022.

About Ebola

Ebola is a viral, acute disease that can turn fatal if left untreated. Ebola is transmitted through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope or porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, objects that have been contaminated with body fluids (like blood, feces, vomit) from a person sick with Ebola or the body of a person who died from Ebola.

Precaution

The public is urged to avoid physical contacts of anyone with the above symptoms, continue with washing hands and maintain good hand hygiene at all times. Avoid contact with body fluids that include urine, blood, sweat, saliva, vomitus, and stool.

Handling of dead bodies suspected to have Ebola like symptoms should be supervised by the health team and undergo a safe and dignified burial to prevent further spread within the communities.

All public places in the country are urged to institute hand washing facilities at their premises.

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