The health authorities in Uganda declared an outbreak of Ebola after a case of the Sudan ebolavirus was confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country.
This was contained in a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa Region on Tuesday, September 30, 2022.
According to the statement, the Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old male. It said this followed an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that had occurred in the district this month. Also, there were currently eight suspected cases who were receiving care in a health facility.
In response, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, vowed to work with the national health authorities of the country to roll out control measures:
“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus. We are working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures.
“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections”, she said.
The statement disclosed that WHO deployed staff to the affected area, dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and was sending a tent that would be used to isolate patients.
It also disclosed that, while ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine had been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, the vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire virus.
It noted that another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan.
There had been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudan ebolavirus, with four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan. Uganda last reported an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in 2012.
In 2019, the country experienced an outbreak of Zaire ebolavirus. The virus was imported from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo which was battling a large epidemic in its north-eastern region.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. It has six different species, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks. Case fatality rates of the Sudan virus have varied from 41% to 100% in past outbreaks. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from Ebola.