Five people suspected to have Ebola haemorrhagic fever have been admitted to different health facilities after it was established that they had been in close contact with the two people who were confirmed to have succumbed to the disease, following the latest outbreak in Luweero District, 50 kilometers from Kampala.
Two of the suspects, an elderly woman and his son both related to the deceased, were Thursday admitted to the Mulago National Referral Hospital isolation facility where they are being closely monitored as they wait for results from their blood samples, expected on Friday.
Another person is admitted at Bombo Military Hospital in Luweero, while the other three are confined to their homes as an isolation centre is being set up at Nyimbwa Health Centre IV.
The Commissioner for National Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Denis Lwamafa said 15 people in Nyimbwa sub-county, Luweero, who are suspected to have come in contact with the fatalities are now under surveillance.
“This is a fresh outbreak. There is no epidemiological link between the outbreaks in Kibaale, western Uganda and the one in Luweero,” Dr Lwamafa said while responding to concerns on the possibility that the country could have been immaturely declared Ebola-free.
Uganda was declared Ebola free on October 4th after observing a 42 day post Ebola surveillance period.
Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe have confirmed that two people, all from one family in Sambwe Parish in Nyimbwa Sub-county, Luweero District, were among the first three fatalities of the Sudan strain virus that has been reported in the area.
The Minister for Health Dr. Christine Ondoa confirmed the outbreak Thursday.
This is the second epidemic in the country this year. The first one claimed 11 lives.
The World Health Organisation, however, says that there is no travel ban on Uganda yet, with an exception of the affected areas. As a result, the minister told journalists, Uganda’s borders remain open both for people coming in and leaving the country.
She however said the government cannot regulate or stop other countries that may ban Ugandans from entering their countries.
Below is the Minister’s statement in full:
Ministry Of Health
15th November 2012
EBOLA OUTBREAK IN LUWEERO DISTRICT
KAMPALA - The Ministry of Health would like to inform the general public that another Viral Hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, has broken out in the country. This follows confirmation from the laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe that two people, all from one family in Kakute sub-county, Sambu parish in Nyimbwa sub-county, Luweero district, had died of Ebola, the Sudan strain.
A total of three people have since the onset of the outbreak died in Luweero district located in the central part of the country. The first case, a boda boda rider, died on October 25th after presenting with signs of high fever and bleeding from some body parts. However, no samples were taken from this case as it was not reported to the health facility.
The second death occurred on November 10th 2012 at Nyimbwa Health Center IV. This was 25-year-old woman who had had nursed the boda boda rider. She too, presented with signs and symptoms of Ebola. The third case, also from the same family occurred on October 12 at Nyimbwa Health Center.
A number of suspects have already been identified and attended to appropriately. Currently, there are five suspects closely being monitored by our surveillance team. One is admitted at Bombo Military Hospital, two at Mulago National Referral Hospital Isolation facility while three are still in the communities. Those admitted have an epidemiological link with the index family and nursed the earlier two who were confirmed to have died of the disease.
The Ministry of Health and its partners have to this effect moved fast and beefed up all the necessary measures to control the spread of this highly contagious disease.
• A team of experts from the Ministry, World Health Organisation, MSF, AFENET are already on ground to support the response plan.
• A national taskforce coordinated by the Ministry of Heath has now refocused its attention to the Luweero epidemic since the Marburg situation in western Uganda is fully under control.
• Plans are underway to create an isolation facility at Nyimbwa Health Center IV or Bombo Military Hospital.
• The Luweero district taskforce has been reactivated and is developing a response plan
• Active and sustained tracing and listing of all possible contacts that were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases are in high gear. So far, a number of contacts have been recorded and are closely being monitored.
• The isolation facility at Mulago National Referral Hospital has already been reopened and has admitted two suspect cases.
• The necessary drug supplies and logistics for case management have been mobilized. The National Medical Stores have been requested to send the necessary logistics.
• MSF is already on the ground to evaluate and mobilise the necessary requirements for setting up an appropriate isolation centre at Nyimbwa health center IV or Bombo Military Hospital
• The Ministry has already dispatched Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and body Bags to Luweero district
• Collection of samples from suspect and probable cases has already commenced. Last evening, two samples from taken from suspect cases admitted at Mulago National Referral Hospital
With the above measures, the Ministry of Health is confident that the outbreak will be effectively controlled and there should be no panic among the population.
Ebola is a highly infectious disease, which presents with high grade fever and bleeding tendencies. It is very infectious, kills in a short time but can easily be prevented. The signs and symptoms of the disease include
• abdominal pain,
• measles-like rash,
• red eyes, and sometimes with bleeding from body openings.
It can be spread through direct physical contact with body fluids like saliva, blood, stool, vomit, urine and sweat from an infected person and soiled linen used by a patient. It can also be spread through using skin piercing instruments that have been used by an infected person. Likewise, a person can get it by getting in touch with a dead body of a person who has died of the disease.
The Ministry of Health urges the public, especially in Luweero and the neighbouring districts to take the following measures to avert the spread of the disease.
• Report and immediately take any suspected patient to a nearby health unit
• Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suffering from Ebola by using protective materials like gloves and masks
• Disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person
• Persons who have died of Ebola must be handled with strong protective wear and buried immediately, avoid feasting and funerals
• Avoid eating dead animals especially monkeys
• Avoid public gathering especially in the affected district
• Burial of suspicious community deaths should be done under close supervision of district health workers
• Report all suspicious deaths to the health workers
The Ministry of Health once again calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being undertaken to control the situation. The country will be kept informed further on the outcome of the health emergency.
Hon. Dr. Christine Ondoa
Minister of Health