Health crisis: suspected Ebola cases growing in Uganda

Health crisis: suspected Ebola cases growing in Uganda
Posted on August 3, 2012
August 3, 2012 – KAMPALA, Uganda — Six more patients suspected to have Ebola have been admitted to the hospital days after investigators confirmed an outbreak of the highly infectious disease in a remote corner of western Uganda, a health official said on Monday. Stephen Byaruhanga, health secretary of the affected Kibaale district, said possible cases of Ebola, at first concentrated in a single village, are now being reported in more villages. “It’s no longer just one village. There are many villages affected,” Byaruhanga said. In a national address, Uganda’s president advised against unnecessary contact among people, saying suspected cases of Ebola should be reported immediately to health officials. Officials from Uganda’s Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization announced on Saturday that the deadly Ebola virus killed 14 Ugandans this month, ending weeks of speculation about the cause of a strange illness that had some people fleeing their homes in the absence of reliable answers. If the six new cases are confirmed as Ebola, it would bring to 26 the number of Ugandans infected with Ebola. This is the fourth occurrence of Ebola in Uganda since 2000, when the disease killed 224 people and left hundreds more traumatized in northern Uganda. At least 42 people were killed in another outbreak in 2007, and there was a lone Ebola case in 2011. Investigators took nearly a month to confirm Ebola’s presence in Uganda this year. In Kibaale, a district with 600,000 residents, some villagers started abandoning their homes to escape what they thought was an illness caused by bad luck. One family lost nine members, and a clinical officer and her 4-month-old baby died from Ebola, Byaruhanga said. The confirmation of Ebola’s presence in the area has spread anxiety among sick villagers, who are refusing to go to the hospital for fear they don’t have Ebola and will contract it there. All suspected Ebola patients have been isolated at one hospital where patients admitted with other illnesses fled after Ebola was announced. Only the hospital’s maternity ward still has patients, officials said, highlighting the deadly reputation of Ebola. –Trib Live

Aug 3, 2012

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