KAMPALA/KASESE – The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) of the United Nations (UN) have Tuesday, June 11 confirmed a case of Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Uganda.
In a joint statement, these say, although there have been numerous previous alerts, this is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Their statement adds that the confirmed case is a 5 year old Congolese child who traveled from the DRC with his family on June 9, 2019.
“The child and his family entered the country through Bwera Border post and sought medical care at Kagando hospital where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness,” the statement adds.
The child according to WHO was transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management.
The confirmation was made on Tuesday by the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI).
Health Minister Dr June Ruth Aceng said the child is under care and receiving supportive treatment at Bwera ETU, and contacts are being monitored.
Both the Healthy ministry and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to start contact tracing and management of cases that are likely to occur. Community education, psychosocial support have been intensified.
Minister Aceng noted that the team will also undertake vaccination for those who have come into contact with the patient and frontline health workers considered to be at high risk.
In preparation for a possible imported case during the current outbreak in DRC, Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4700 health workers in 165 health facilities (including in the facility where the child is being cared for); disease monitoring has been intensified; and health workers trained on recognizing symptoms of the disease. Ebola Treatment Units are in place.
In response to this case, the Ministry has intensified community education, psychosocial support and that it “will undertake vaccination for those who have come into contact with the patient and at-risk health workers who were not previously vaccinated”.
Ebola virus disease is a severe illness that is spread through contact with the body fluids of a person sick with the disease (fluids such as vomit, feces or blood). First symptoms are similar to other diseases and thus require vigilant health and community workers, especially in areas where there is Ebola transmission, to help make diagnosis. Symptoms can be sudden and include:
People who have been in contact with someone with the disease are offered vaccine and asked to monitor their health for 21 days to ensure they do not become ill as well.
The investigational vaccine being used in DRC and by health and frontline workers in Uganda has so far been effective in protecting people from developing the disease, and has helped those who do develop the disease to have a better chance of survival. The Ministry strongly urges those who are identified as contacts to take this protective measure.
Investigational therapeutics and advanced supportive care, along with patients seeking care early once they have symptoms, increase chances of survival.
The Ministry of Health has taken the following actions to contain spread of the disease in the country:
The District administration and local councils in the affected area have been directed to ensure that any person with Ebola signs and symptoms in the community is reported to the health workers immediately and provided with advice and testing.
The Ministry of Health is setting up units in the affected district and at referral hospitals to handle cases if they occur.
Social mobilization activities are being intensified and education materials are being disseminated.
There are no confirmed cases in any other parts of the country.
The Ministry is working with international partners coordinated by the World Health Organization.
The Ministry of Health appeals to the general public and health workers to work together closely, to be vigilant and support each other in helping anyone with symptoms to receive care quickly. The Ministry will continue to update the general public on progress and new developments.