Ebola Outbreak in Uganda May Be Spreading, 14 Confirmed Dead

Health officials work to control spread of the deadly disease, which is highly contagious and often fatal.

About 90 percent of Ebola cases end in death, and the disease can be transmitted from human to human, and from animals to humans. (Photo: Photo Researchers/Getty Images)

Jul 30, 2012
Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

A small but growing outbreak of the Ebola virus has been reported in Uganda, with 14 people dead, nine of them from the same household.

The World Health Organization issued a statement saying that since the beginning of July a total of 20 cases have been reported in the Kibaale district, located in the western part of the country.

Two patients are hospitalized in stable condition, but neither has had bleeding as a symptom, which is common in viral hemorrhagic fever, the WHO said. Six additional patients suspected of having the disease were recently admitted to the hospital.

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The district’s health secretary, Stephen Byaruhanga, reported that cases are now being found in more villages. "It's no longer just one village. There are many villages affected," he said.

Among the dead is a medic who treated a patient. The Ugandan Ministry of Health is working to control the outbreak, and experts from the ministry, the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Doctors Without Borders are on site.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a highly contagious and often fatal disease that can be passed among humans by close contact with body fluids and also via infected needles, the National Institutes of Health report. The virus can also be spread from animals to humans.

Since there is no cure, only symptoms can be treated. Even modest Ebola outbreaks warrant immediate attention so cases don’t increase, affecting travelers who could potentially spread the disease even further.

CNN reported that according to district health authorities, some people were putting off being treated because they thought evil spirits had made them ill.

“This caused civil strife among the community, requiring police intervention to quell the animosity," the Health Ministry was quoted as saying.

The WHO has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions be placed upon Uganda due to the outbreak.

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