Authors: Martha Powell, Future Science Group
The Ministry of Health and the WHO have confirmed three cases of Ebola in Uganda. Although there have been previous alerts, these are the first confirmed cases in Uganda during the outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The inital case was a 5-year-old child who had travelled to Uganda from the DRC on 9 June 2019, entering Uganda through Bwera Border post. The child sought medical care at Kagando hospital where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness, the child was then transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management. Confirmation was made on June 11 by the Uganda Virus Institute (Entebbe, Uganda).
This was the first case of Ebola confirmed in Uganda amid an outbreak in the DRC that has recorded over 2000 cases in the past 10 months, leading to nearly 1400 mortalities. The DRC outbreak is the second worst outbreak ever recorded, second only to the largest outbreak ever recorded, in West Africa (2013–2016), which claimed over 11,000 lives.
Following this announcement, the Ministry of Health today (12 June) announced a further two confirmed cases of Ebola, the 50-year-old grandmother and a 3-year-old brother to the initial case. Blood samples were tested positive by the Uganda Virus Institute. Unfortunately since the confirmations both the index case and the grandmother have died.
Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health for Uganda stated on Twitter today: “The young patient – 5-year-old index case of Ebola died last night. Two more samples were sent to UVRI and have tested positive. We, therefore, have three confirmed cases of Ebola in Uganda”
Twenty-seven contacts have been line listed and are currently being followed up.
In preparation for such a possible imported case during the DRC outbreak Uganda has already vaccinated more than 4700 healthcare professionals in 165 facilities, intensified disease monitoring and given training to healthcare workers on the disease.
The cases are receiving care and contacts are being monitored. In addition, the Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify others who might be at risk. In response to this case the authorirites have also stated that community education, psychosocial support and contact vaccination efforts will be stepped up.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reconvened the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola virus disease in the DRC. The Committee will meet on 14 June to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and what recommendations should be made to manage the outbreak. This will be the third meeting of the committee on this outbreak (the first was on 17 October 2018 and second on 12 April 2019).
WHO Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, commented on Twitter: “The first case of Ebola in Uganda is a child with a history of traveling to DRC. We are contacting members of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee & asking them to be on standby.”
Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust (London, UK), commented: “This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping,”
“We can expect and should plan for more cases in DRC and neighboring countries. There are now more deaths than any other Ebola outbreak in history, bar the West Africa epidemic of 2013–16, and there can be no doubt that the situation could escalate towards those terrible levels.”
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