Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

5 August 2012

East Africa: Ebola Under Control - WHO

Photo: Ismail Kasooha/New Vision
Health workers preparing to handle Ebola patients: There is no treatment or vaccine against Ebola, which is transmitted by close personal contact and, depending on the strain, can kill up to 90% of those who contract the virus.

Bukoba — THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that the Ebola disease which was reported to neighbouring Uganda was now under control.

A WHO spokesperson said in Geneva that Ebola was no longer a threat, calling for continued surveillance.

The WHO describes Ebola as "a viral haemorrhagic fever and one of the most virulent diseases known to humankind". It says the disease was identified in 1976 in a western equatorial province of Sudan and a nearby region of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo).

It takes its name from a river in the DRC. Kagera Region is on high Ebola alert following reports that neighbouring Uganda risked a major resurgence of the disease after 43 cases were discovered this year.

The warning came after Uganda said an epidemic had killed 16 people this month, including four clinical officers who were attending sick patients. Health officials said at least 20 people had been infected and of those 14 had died.

Sources at the Kagera Regional Hospital said that health officials were making 24-hour surveillance at all entry points to check the disease. The entry points include Rusumo and Kabanga in Ngara District, Kaisho and Murongo in Karagwe District, Kyaka and Mutukula in Misenyi District.

The Regional Health Officer (RHO), Mr Herman Kabirigi, said that a team of experts had been dispatched to all entry points to monitor movements. Terrified patients fled from a hospital in western Uganda as soon as news broke that a mysterious illness that killed at least 14 people in the region was Ebola, one of the world's most virulent diseases.

Ignatius Besisira, an MP for Buyaga East County in the Kibaale District, said people had at first believed the unexplained deaths were related to witchcraft. "Immediately, when there was confirmation that it was Ebola ... patients ran out of Kagadi hospital (where some of the victims had died)," he told the Guardian. "Even the medical officers are very, very frightened," he said.

"Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute ... have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola haemorrhagic fever," they said in a joint statement.

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

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