Monday, July 30, 2012

Update on Ebola in Uganda

Press Release:

The Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of Ebloa in Kibaale district on Saturday July 28th after receiving confirmatory results from the Uganda Virus Research Institute that the strange disease that had killed 14 people in the district was Ebola Hemorrhagic fever, Sudan strain.

The announcement followed investigations after the Ministry received a report from Kibaale district health authorities on 11th July 2012 about the strange disease that was associated with death in Nyanswiga LCI in Nyamarunda Parish of Nyamarunda subcounty, Kibaale district. 

The report had indicated that the patients presented with the common symptoms of diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. It indicated that by 10th July 2012, despite many of the patients having received treatment from Emesco HCIII, Mugarama HCIII, Kagadi Hospital and St Ambrose, 10 of them had died.

It further indicated that initial samples of blood and stool taken from the sick did not yield any positive findings in the laboratories in Kagadi Hospital and Central Public Health Laboratories of the Ministry of Health, Kampala.

The report also noted that people were delaying to present themselves to seek for treatment, partly because they believed that the cause of the illness was due to “evil spirits”. This caused civil strife among the community requiring Police intervention to quell the animosity.

In response to this report, a team from the Ministry of Health was dispatched to do a quick assessment of the outbreak and give direction for further measures to be taken. The team carried out an eye balling exercise and verbal autopsy on the affected family.

Between the 24th and 25th July 2012, detailed laboratory investigations were conducted at the Uganda Virus Research Institute and confirmed that the “Strange Disease” was Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Sudan. Three samples taken from the dead confirmed Ebola to be present in their biological specimen.

The Ministry of Health wished to inform the public that the index case belonged to a family in Nyanswiga village in Nyamarunda Sub-county in Kibaale district. Nine other members of the family had also succumbed to death. Four other people including a clinical officer who had attended to the dead at Kagadi Hospital also died at Mulago Hospital after she had been referred there. Her three-month-old daughter also died after admission at Kagadi Hospital on July 28th. This brings the total number of dead to 14 as of July 28th.

The ministry of Health and its partners mainly the World Health Organisation, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MSF and other Health Development Partners convened an emergency meeting to discuss the management of the outbreak. The meeting agreed to embark on the following to contain the situation;
· Started active and sustained tracing and listing of all possible contacts that were exposed to the suspected and confirmed cases since 6th July 2012.

· Dispatched a team of experts from MoH, WHO and CDC to support the response plan

· Mobilized the necessary supplies and logistics for case management from the National Medical Stores

· CDC dispatched Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and body Bags to the district.

· World Health Organisation provided an initial supply of PPEs and body bags

· Requested Mulago National Referral Hospital to reactive its isolation camp in readiness for any possible cases detected in the surrounding areas at the hospital.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health high powered delegation visited the Kibaale district to assess the current situation and build confidence of the healthcare workers. The delegation was led by the National Disease Control Programme Dr. Denis Lwamafa and other Commissioner. Others on the team includd representatives from the World Health Organisation, CDC and other Health Development Partners.

The Ministry of Health assures the public that it is working around the clock with its international partners to rapidly assess the extent of the outbreak and to bring it fully under control as quickly as possible.

Currently, there have been no more deaths recorded since the outbreak of the epidemic in July 28th. The death toll still remains at 14 with only three confirmed to have died of Ebola. There are seven suspect cases admitted at Kagadi District Hospital and are responding well to the treatment being given. Other people who got into contact with the dead have not reported any signs of the disease so far, but continue to be monitored closely.

The Ministry of Health has further set up a temporary Isolation centre at Kagadi Government Hospital to accommodate all people suspected to be infected with the disease. The facility is to be beefed up with medical team from Mulago National Referral Hospital to manage the suspect cases.

A team of experts from CDC and World Health Organization have collected seven more samples from close contacts for further investigations bringing the total number of specimens collected to 11. The samples are being investigated at the Uganda Virus Institute, Entebbe. The Ministry continues to undertake active and sustained tracing and listing of all possible contacts.

Another team of experts is undertaking disinfection control at the wards and the isolation facility at the Hospital. The hospital has set up burial committees to manage burials of people suspected to have died of Ebola. The committee has been oriented on burial procedures and infection prevention and control.This is one of the control measures to control the spread of the highly contiguous disease.

Mulago Hospital is in the process of reactivating its isolation camp to cater for any reported cases in Kampala and neighbouring districts.

The Ministry of Health once again urges the public to take the following measures to avert the spread of the disease.

· Report and immediately take any suspected patient to a nearby health unit

· Avoid direct contact with body fluids of a person suspected to be suffering from Ebola by using protective materials like gloves and masks

· Disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person

· Persons who have died of Ebola must be handled with strong protective wear and buried immediately, avoid feasting and funerals

· Avoid eating dead animals especially monkeys

· Avoid public gathering especially in the affected district

· Burial of suspicious community deaths should be done under close supervision of district health workers

· Report all suspicious deaths to the health workers

Once again the Ministry of Health calls upon the public to stay calm as all possible measures are being undertaken to control the situation.

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