Symptoms, prevention and treatment for the Ebola disease

A young man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse in Goma on August 7, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • The Health ministry, following the outbreak of the disease in Mubende, has asked the population in the affected area and other parts of the country to report suspected cases of Ebola to the nearest health facilities for assessment.

Ebola is a contagious viral disease which kills somewhere between 25 percent to 90 percent of the victims depending on how the disease is handled, information from the World Health Organisation indicates.

This comes a day after the Health Ministry confirmed the outbreak of Ebola in Mubende District, the fifth time the disease is ravaging the country.   

Dr Diana Atwine, the Health ministry permanent secretary, said human-to-human transmission of the disease is through contact with the blood or fluids of an infected person or objects contaminated such as fluids.

The Health ministry, following the outbreak of the disease in Mubende, has asked the population in the affected area and other parts of the country to report suspected cases of Ebola to the nearest health facilities for assessment.

The known symptoms of Ebola include high body temperatures, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding, yellowing of the eyes. Bleeding is usually a late presentation after the above symptoms, according to the Health ministry.

The government yesterday urged all health workers to have the highest index of suspicion and maintain heightened vigilance and safety precautions and report suspected cases to the surveillance team in districts.

It emerged yesterday that several districts and cities had activated their disaster preparedness committee, which are chaired by resident district and city commissioners and lead efforts to counter spread of epidemics, although most reported being constrained by resources.

At yesterday’s press conference in Kampala, PS Atwine said: “The public is urged to avoid physical contact with anyone with the above symptoms [of Ebola], continue with washing hands and maintain good hygiene at all times. Avoid contact with body fluids that include urine, blood, sweat, vomitus and stool.” 

According to the WHO, provision of supportive care such as rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids - and treatment of specific symptoms improves survival chances.

Information from the global health agency indicates that a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated.

Dr Charles Njuguna, the head of health emergencies at the WHO Uganda country office, told this newspaper that although there is approved vaccine for Ebola, health workers and other groups at risk are hesitant to go for vaccination. 

Officials also said the vaccines available, which have been widely used in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), which is battered by recurrences of Ebola Zaire, are inapplicable for the Ebola Sudan variant in Uganda. 

The Health Minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, said at the launch of the Ebola vaccination last month that “WHO provided us with 12,000 doses of Mark Vaccine which protects against Ebola Zaire. We started with soldiers because there is an Ebola outbreak in Beni, DR Congo.”

There are a few thousands of UPDF troops in Congo since last November, leading the charge to annihilate Allied Democratic Forces rebels in eastern DR Congo, explaining why vaccinating them became a priority.

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