Two Ebola cases keep Kampala in crosshairs

A suspected Ebola patient rests on the bed at Madudu Health center 3 waiting to be transferred to an isolation unit in Mubende, Uganda on September 24, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • The known symptoms of Ebola include high body temperatures, fatigue, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, unexplained bleeding, yellowing of the eyes.

The Health ministry has linked the two cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Kampala to initial cases of the disease in Mubende District, the epicentre.

One of the patients, a 45-year-old man from Mubende, died at Kiruddu hospital in Kampala this week after escaping from Mubende, where he had been listed as a contact and was being followed up.

The second patient, the wife of the 45-year-old man, tested positive for Ebola after delivering at Kitebi Health Centre IV in Kampala.

At least 42 contacts of the patients have been listed in Kampala and more than 10 health workers, who handled the two patients, have been isolated at the Mulago isolation centre.

“She is a listed contact of her husband, but also a contact to her husband’s brother. She was listed as a contact in Mubende and, therefore, remains a case of Mubende,” Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, said.

Dr Rosemary Byanyima, the acting director of Mulago National Referral Hospital, said the hospital is safe and is providing care to all patients.

“The isolation unit is a stand-alone facility, separate from the lower and upper Mulago. I don’t know the number of people who are isolated there because it is under the Ebola taskforce,” she said.

Although many people have questioned the relevance of listing the two patients as cases of Mubende and not Kampala, Dr Aceng and President Museveni are sticking with their position.

The cases in Kampala have triggered anxiety among the city dwellers and people intending to come to the city, a development that could affect business and slow down recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Unless Kampala generates its own cases that start within Kampala, we cannot call that a Kampala case,” Dr Aceng reasoned before urging the public to remain calm and vigilant.

The President, during his address to the nation on Wednesday, said: “There has been a lot of rumours and anxiety about confirmed cases of Ebola in Kampala City, specifically Kiruddu hospital. I would like to inform the general public that there is no confirmed case of Ebola in Kampala City.”

Since the September 20 outbreak declaration, 55 confirmed cases and 19 deaths have been reported by the Health ministry. Up to 20 people have also recovered from the deadly disease. The ministry’s data for the deaths exclude those who died before the outbreak was confirmed. The Ministry of Health has not yet determined the index case (the first person to contract EVD during this fresh outbreak).

Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director general of Health Services, said the contacts of the 45-year-old who died at Kiruddu hospital have tested negative for Ebola “but we want to give them a second trial.”

Dr Mwebesa added: “The family of the man who died has been isolated in Madudu Sub-county in Mubende.”

Up to 17 of the 19 EVD deaths are from Mubende as per the government statistics. But cases have been reported in Kyegegwa, Kassanda, Bunyangabo and Kagadi.

According to the Health ministry, EVD is transmitted through contact with the blood, stool or fluids of an infected person and objects that have been contaminated with body fluids from an infected person.

One can also contract the disease through contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats and other wild animals.

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.