Kanungu leaders issue alert over DR Congo Ebola outbreak

Health workers disinfect before engaging ebola patients in Africa. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • In the 2019-2020 Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, nearly 1,400 people lost their lives in just a period of 10 months.

Leaders in Kanungu have called for increased vigilance among communities following the outbreak of Ebola in eastern DR Congo, which borders the district.

Mr Shafiq Ssekandi, the Resident District Commissioner, told Daily Monitor at the weekend that they received reports of the outbreak of the disease around Butsili area close to Beni,  a town that was in the epicentre of the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo.

Beni is about 50kms from Ituri Province,  which neighbours Kanungu.
“ The virus is a big threat to all of us since we share a border with Congo and conduct business with the residents there,”  Mr Ssekandi said.

He called for screening at the border points for both Ebola and Covid-19.
Mr Ssekandi appealed to the visitors from the DR Congo to adhere to  the standard operating procedures of Ebola prevention.

“Any visitor from DR Congo should first be screened against Ebola and Covid-19 because the two diseases spread fast. Therefore, vigilance and Ebola preventative measures should be followed,” he said.

The RDC also tasked authorities at border points to carry out screening and community sensitisation to  prevent  the spread of Ebola. 

Mr Sam Kajojo, the district chairperson,  said in the last Ebola outbreak, Kanungu was identified among the  22 high-risk districts because they are close to the border and have high levels of movement.

The district  deployed medical monitors to spot and manage any cases.
“We were among the high risk districts in the last outbreak and this time we need to be vigilant or else we will lose lives because Congo is very near to us,” Mr Kajojo said.

Ms Annah Tukamushaba, the acting district health officer, said a team of rapid response team has already been dispatched to the border and other entry points to screen everyone crossing into Uganda.

“We have also sent a team of health workers to the border points to deal with new entrants and our screening points have already resumed. This is being done in line with the Ministry of Health,”  Ms Tukamushaba said.  

In the 2019-2020 Ebola outbreak in DR Congo, nearly 1,400 people lost their lives in just a period of 10 months, representing 70 percent of the infected ones and the outbreak was the second largest in the history of disease, according to the World Health Organisation.

What is ebola? 

Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat. It progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and both internal and external bleeding.

People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.

Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure, according Dr Meah Mugisha of Bwindi Hospital in Kanungu.

How can it be controlled?

Ebola can be controlled by avoid public gatherings, over crowed places, regular hand washing with clean water and soap, isolation of Ebola patients, among others.