Ebola in Uganda

Ebola was confirmed in Uganda on 28 July 2012. WHO, with the Ministry of Health and partners, has prevented the outbreak from expanding beyond Kibaale District. But more support is needed.

August 2012

WHO health workers assess the outbreak of Ebola in Uganda
WHO/B. Sensasi

When the first case of Ebola was confirmed in Uganda on 28 July 2012, the WHO country office in Kampala immediately went on alert. In order to prevent the disease from spreading, it was of utmost importance to isolate suspected cases, confirm cases through lab testing, provide supportive treatment, trace and follow up all contacts, and educate the public about the virus and its ways of transmission.

“We immediately sent a team with specialists and supplies to Kibaale district, where the outbreak began,” explains Dr Joaquim Saweka, the WHO Representative in Uganda. “Thus we were able to assist the district with the immediate response and effective coordination in the field.”

Ebola a highly infectious virus

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is caused by the Ebola virus, a highly infectious, often fatal virus that spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids. Symptoms can include fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, bleeding from body openings. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals. So far, there is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals.

In the Kibaale District, located about 220 km west of Ugandan’s capital Kampala, as of 7 August 2012, 60 suspected cases of Ebola have been identified, including 16 deaths. Ten cases have been confirmed by the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, Uganda. WHO, together with the Ministry of Health and international partners, has been able to contain the infection and prevent the outbreak from expanding beyond Kibaale District. But more support is needed.

Additional resources are needed

“To pay for the additional health workers and supplies needed to care for probably infected people we need more funds,” underlines Dr Saweka. “We are also looking for additional resources to broadly inform people about ways to protect themselves and their families.”

As a result of the joint efforts of all partners, the WHO office in Uganda hopes that it will be possible to stop this outbreak, without it spreading further, in the coming months if not weeks.