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Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills 13, official says

posted 28 Jul 2012, 13:37 by Mpelembe   [ updated 28 Jul 2012, 13:38 ]

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus kills 13 people in Uganda's Kibale district, 170 kilometres (100 miles) west of the capital, Kampala.

KAMPALA, UGANDA (JULY 28, 2012) (REUTERS) - An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has killed 13 people in Uganda and efforts are under way to contain the hemorrhagic fever, Uganda's Ministry of Health said on Saturday (July 28).

There is no treatment and no vaccine against Ebola, which is transmitted by close personal contact and, depending on the strain, kills up to 90 percent of those who contract the virus.

Anthony Mbonye, Director of Communicable diseases at Uganda's Ministry of Health, said that although suspected Ebola infections emerged in early July in Kibale district, about 170 km (100 miles) west of the capital Kampala, the outbreak was not confirmed until Friday (July 27).

"The clinical presentation is typical of hemorrhagic fever, of a rapidly highly infectious disease, because out of the twenty cases, thirteen people have died and in a short time but also the people who have died are those who were in contact with family members who have died and we think such kind of death within a family is due to a rapid and a highly infectious disease and hemorrhagic fever is one of the options and indeed we have confirmed it," said Mbonye.

Mbonye said the origin of the outbreak had not yet been confirmed, but 18 of the 20 cases are understood to be linked to one family.

Efforts were under way to contain the spread of the virus, Mbonye said.

"There was a suspected patient who was admitted to Mulago hospital and died and we have not confirmed that it is Ebola but in such circumstances we do contact tracing to see if the people who were in contact with such a patient have any symptoms, any signs and symptoms," he said.

"And there are many cases, as I've said, thirteen people have died so of course they had relatives, they had friends who attended to them during the burial, when they were sick. We have to do contact tracing of this people and we have to see whether they develop symptoms or not. We have now three patients who are now admitted in Kagadi hospital in the isolation unit," explained Mbonye.

Kibale is near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the virus emerged in 1976, taking its name from the Ebola River.

The symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, impaired kidney and liver function and both internal and external bleeding.

Ebola was last reported in Uganda in May last year when it killed a 12-year-old girl. The country's most devastating outbreak was in 2000 when 425 people were infected, more than half of whom died.