9 January 2013

Uganda: Luweero to Be Declared Ebola Free

The Ministry of Health will declare Luweero district Ebola Free on January 16, if no new cases are registered in the area, the Permanent Secretary Asuman Lukwago has said.

The declaration will follow the completion of the 42 days countdown period since the last patient was discharged from the isolation Centre. It comes at a time when the ministry has just declared Kabale and Ibanda free of Marburg.

The countdown period is a prerequisite of the World Health Organization requiring any affected country to monitor the situation for 42 days before finally declaring an end to an outbreak.

Lukwago said the declaration will be made in Luweero alone; this he says is to avoid cases where new outbreak can occur.

"Due to the repeated out breaks we have decided to declare district by district free from the out breaks meaning that if Ebola is declared free in Luweero, we shall declare it free in that district" he said.

"But we will continue to urge Ugandans to be alert and inform us of anybody with the symptoms so that our system can quickly identify any body with the disease," Lukwago added.

The Permanent Secretary said his ministry is working with the Environment and Wildlife ministries to ensure that the animals and birds that spread both Ebola and Marburg disease are wiped out.

"Our experts are telling us that these diseases Marburg and Ebola could be carried by some special birds and animals which have been cited in some mines and caves in some parts of mid-western Uganda especially Kamwenge.

He stressed that they were working with those ministries to wipe out the affected birds and animals as they carry out research on the diseases and how they are related with birds and animals.

Ebola and Marburg are both highly infectious disease, spread mostly through contact with body fluids, and have high case fatalities. Symptoms include bleeding, diarrhea and vomiting and while there is no cure for both diseases, some patients survive through treatment of symptoms.

Three people died from the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus and two of the dead were from one family in Luweero district about 75 kilometers North of Kampala.

The new outbreak came just weeks after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Uganda Ebola free. The Ebola outbreak was confirmed following laboratory tests that turned out positive.

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