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Health

Uganda braces for possible deadly Ebola outbreak

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-14

The Ebola virus killed a 12-year-old girl in Uganda earlier in May, health officials said Saturday, confirming the first outbreak of the fast-spreading and fatal disease in Uganda in four years.

REUTERS - The rare and deadly Ebola virus has killed a 12-year-old Ugandan girl, and health officials said on Saturday they expected more cases.

The girl from Luwero district, 75 km (45 miles) north of the capital Kampala, died on May 6, said Anthony Mbonye, the government’s commissioner for community health, in the first outbreak of the virus in Uganda in four years.

“Laboratory investigations have confirmed Ebola to be the primary cause of the illness and death. So there is one case reported but we expect other cases,” he said.

“Just one case is considered an epidemic because it can spread quickly and it is highly fatal.”

The last time Uganda was hit by Ebola—a disease in which those infected often bleed to death—it killed 37 people.

Mbonye said this was the closest a case had ever been reported to Kampala.

Ugandan health officials are following up 33 people who were in contact with the girl, he said.

There is no treatment and no vaccine against Ebola, which is transmitted by close personal contact and, depending on the strain, kills up to 90 percent of victims.

Its initial symptoms include sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function and both internal and external bleeding.

Mbonye said rapid response teams were on standby to treat those with symptoms, and urged people to remain calm. He said the strain in the outbreak was Sudanic ebola, which has a 50-60 percent fatality rate.

Ebola has caused dozens of deadly outbreaks across Africa and threatens endangered gorilla populations as well as people. It is considered a possible bioterrorism weapon.

Date created : 2011-05-14

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