Uganda Successfully Ends Sudan Ebola Virus Outbreak

On January 11, 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Uganda had successfully declared the end of the Ebola disease outbreak caused by Sudan ebolavirus. The country managed to end the outbreak in less than four months after the first case was confirmed in central Mubende district on September 20, 2022.

This was Uganda’s first Sudan Ebola Virus outbreak in a decade and its fifth overall. The East African country recorded a total of 164 cases, of which 142 were confirmed, and 55 deaths due to the disease. The overall case-fatality ratio was 47 per cent.

Background of Ebola

Ebola, also known as Ebola virus disease (EVD), is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. The virus was first identified in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Symptoms of EVD can include fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising).

Epicenter and Containment Measures

Two districts at the epicentre of the epidemic, Mubende and Kassanda, were placed under lockdown for two months until mid-December, but the government did not impose similar measures nationwide. This allowed the authorities to track and isolate patients and prevent further transmission of the virus.

Impact on the Community

  • WHO said in total there had been 142 confirmed cases, 55 confirmed deaths and 87 recovered patients, with children among the victims.
  • Uganda’s outbreak was caused by the Sudan Ebola virus, one of six species of the Ebola virus and for which there is currently no confirmed vaccine.
  • The previous outbreak in Uganda, which shares a porous border with the DRC, was in 2019 when at least five people died.

Transmission and Symptoms

  • Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea. People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.
  • Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments. The deadliest epidemic unfolded in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, killing more than 11,300 people. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest claiming the lives of 2,280 people in 2020.

Overall, the Ugandan government’s swift response and targeted measures were successful in containing the outbreak and preventing it from spreading further. The WHO commended the efforts of the Ugandan government and health workers in effectively managing the outbreak and preventing a larger scale catastrophe. However, the ongoing threat of Ebola highlights the need for continued surveillance and preparedness measures in the region to prevent future outbreaks.



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