Ebola epidemic in Uganda

Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the Ebola virus in samples taken in the west of Uganda, on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). According to the Ministry of Health of Uganda, a total of 64 suspected cases, and 21 deaths, have been reported in the villages of Kykyo and Bundibugyo. The first Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams arrived in Bundibugyo, the epicenter, on 1st December.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a highly contagious disease for which there is still no treatment. The strains of Ebola virus known to date involve the death of the patient in 50 to 90% of cases.

MSF's  priority is to build an efficient isolation unit, in order to isolate infected patients. Patients in isolation unit are re-hydrated and receive medicines to alleviate their suffering.
In order to contain the epidemic, people who have been in contact with the contaminated patients must be identified and referred to the isolation unit. To this day (4th December), patients with similar symptoms have been identified in two other locations. This yet needs to be confirmed by laboratory tests.

A first MSF team arrived on 1st December in the town of Bundibugyo. In the coming days, the team will build up to 20 experienced volunteers. They have set up a functioning isolation unit in Bundibugyo, where 23 patients are now hospitalised, and will set one up in Kikyo in the coming days. MSF is working with the Ugandan authorities, WHO, and other organisations.

Teams are now training national medical staff and caretakers to reduce contamination risks. They are also distributing medicines and protective equipment. Medical staff, while caring for Ebola patients, is at high risk. The virus is transmitted through body fluids. In Bundibugyo, five nurses in the health center have already been contaminated.