The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commenced investigation into the source of the outbreak Ebola in Uganda.
A statement by WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti disclosed that a joint team comprising its officials and the Ugandan health authorities has started investigation after the East African country declared an outbreak of Ebola.
It stated that Uganda has confirmed a case of the Sudan ebolavirus in Mubende district in the central part of the country.
WHO said the Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old man.
“The health authorities in Uganda today declared an outbreak of Ebola after a case of the Sudan ebolavirus was confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country.
“The Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old male. This follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that have occurred in the district this month,” it said.
The apex health body said there are currently eight suspected cases who are receiving care in a health facility.
“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus. We are working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures,” Moeti added.
“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” he added.
Moeti said there had been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudan ebolavirus, with four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan, adding that Uganda last reported an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in 2012.
According to the WHO director, the country experienced an outbreak of Zaire ebolavirus in 2019.
She added that the virus was imported from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo which was battling a large epidemic in its north-eastern region.
Moeti said WHO was helping Ugandan health authorities with the investigation and was deploying staff to the affected area. The organisation has dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and is sending a tent that will be used to isolate patients.
WHO stated that: “While ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire virus. Another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan.
“Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. It has six different species, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks. Case fatality rates of the Sudan virus have varied from 41 percent to 100 percent in past outbreaks. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from Ebola”.