UVRI Plays Key Role in Confirming Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

(October 23, 2012) Uganda was declared ebola free October 4 but Ugandans have been urged by the Ministry of Health to remain vigilant and uphold control measures.

The government worked with partners on interventions to respond to the outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever which caused 16 deaths. Ten cases, all in Kabaale, were laboratory-confirmed at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe. 

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 deaths occurred in a single household. More than 200 people who were in contact with the infected patients are still under observation.  

The MOH along with staff from Kagadi Hospital and Mulago Hospital established a temporary isolation ward for suspected, probable and confirmed cases. Thirty-six patients have been isolated. The MOH and Mulago Hospital in Kampala mobilized some staff to manage the ward. A total of 408 contacts who were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases since July 6, 2012 were identified for active follow up. In addition to ongoing surveillance, training has begun for teams to provide psycho-social support to families of those stricken by Ebola. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) is collaborating with UVRI and its partners on an ecologic study to identify possible sources of exposure to the Ebolavirus. Other partners involved in the outbreak response include the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET), EMESCO Foundation (a local NGO), Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) which is also coordinating with Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) partners.

The MOH advised the public to take measures to report any suspected patient to the nearest health unit. Hundreds of schools have been closed and in some areas social gatherings are banned. Information about the outbreak was broadcast in 11 languages on national radio stations and local volunteers fanned out to disseminate information door-to-door in 85 villages.  

"Ebola is with us again and has already claimed lives of Ugandans, including some front-line health workers working under challenging circumstances upcountry,"

— UVRI Medical/Research Officer George Miiro