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Uganda's ministry of Health confirms Ebola outbreak in Mubende

The ministry of Health has confirmed an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Mubende after a 24-year-old man tested positive and succumbed to the Sudan variant at Mubende Regional Referral hospital yesterday Monday. The victim was a resident Ngabano village of Madudu sub-county in Mubende.

Ministry of Health permanent secretary, Dr Diana Atwine told journalists at a press conference at the ministry today that they have dispatched a rapid response team to Madudu and Kiruma villages in Mubende to do a verbal post-mortem on the six reported victims who died between September 11 and 15, 2022.

The team is also expected to gather the contacts of the confirmed case for quarantining. According to Atwine, three adults and three children who died were living in the same family with the confirmed case, which has now been isolated in the mortuary awaiting burial by the medical team.

"We're right now gathering more information on the possible source of infection of the confirmed cases. We also want to let you know that on suspicion of this patient, the district rapid response team, initiated investigations as they'd also been informed of the community deaths. This report was specifically talking about strange illness and sudden deaths in the villages of Madudu and Kiruma sub-counties in Mubende district. The district went on the ground and verified the deaths as follows; a total of 6 deaths had occurred, 3 were adults and 3 were children," said Atwine. 

While this case has been confirmed, the exact source of infection is still unclear as epidemiologists both at the ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO), say no country has reported the circulation of the Sudan variant. The neighbouring DRC has over the last three years been registering outbreaks of the Zaire variant as Dr Henry Kyobe explains.

Commenting on the development, Dr Bayo Fatunmbi, the acting WHO country representative asked the public to be vigilant considering that the virus spreads through bodily contact and that this strain is rare having last been confirmed in Uganda in 2011 when a case was picked from Luweero.  

Bayo adds that, while elsewhere including in Congo, part of the efforts to control transmission is having ring vaccination of contacts, this will not happen in Uganda since the existing vaccine only works with the Zaire variant. The vaccine that could work for the Sudan virus is only under development.

Meanwhile, the public has been urged to observe standard operating procedures by sanitizing and avoiding close contact with people considering that the virus can spread through bodily fluids like sweat. 

The ministry also urges health workers, especially in the private facilities which are the first point of care for many, to keenly observe patients and refer them in a timely manner once they develop symptoms such as fatigue, fever, chest pain, diarrhoea, and unexplained bleeding from anybody site among others. Atwine says other guidelines for health workers will be issued later on today.

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