Health authorities in Uganda have declared an Ebola outbreak after confirming the rare Sudan strain in a 24-year-old man in the Mubende district.
The Mubende case was detected and comes after six suspicious deaths in the same area but, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a further eight suspected cases are currently receiving care in a health facility.
WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, pointed out in a statement that this is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus.
Dr. Moeti noted that they’re supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures and are in close cooperation with Uganda’s national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak.
He stressed that the number of deaths from Ebola can be significantly reduced with early initiation of supportive treatment.
WHO has dispatched care supplies as well as an isolation tent for infected patients and is also deploying staff to the affected area.
Being no stranger to effective Ebola control, Uganda possesses expertise that has helped the health authorities promptly take action to detect the virus, banking on its knowledge to halt the spread of infections.
Affecting both humans and other primates, the Ebola virus is severe and often fatal, causing severe bleeding and organ failure in infected individuals. There are six known different species of the virus, three of which – Bundibugyo, Sudan, and Zaire – were responsible for large outbreaks in the past.
According to WHO’s data, the case fatality rates of the Sudan strain have varied from 41 to 100 percent in past outbreaks.
WHO said that there have been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudan ebolavirus – four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan – with the last reported outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in Uganda being in 2012.
The only approved therapeutic used in the past to ring-vaccinate high-risk people in other African nations to help control the spread of Ebola is the Ervebo vaccine but, according to WHO, the drug was only approved for the Zaire virus.
WHO notes that there’s another vaccine – produced by Johnson and Johnson – that may be effective but it has not been specifically tested against Ebola Sudan.