Ebola in Uganda is under control

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The Ebola outbreak in Uganda is under control, a senior public health official in Africa said Thursday, noting that local health authorities are doing well in tracing most of the contacts.

“The situation is not getting out of control,” said Dr Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We have good visibility of all contacts.”

About 98 percent of the 2,694 documented contacts – people exposed to Ebola from a confirmed patient – are monitored, Ogwell said, adding that “it is comforting to know that we know the evolution of this particular outbreak.”

Tracing contacts is essential to stem the spread of contagious diseases such as Ebola.

Uganda declared an outbreak of the Sudanese strain of Ebola on September 20. The epicenter is a rural community in central Uganda about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

Health officials in the Mubende district, where the outbreak began, were quick to confirm Ebola, in part because the symptoms of the disease may mimic those of more prevalent malaria. A blockade has since been imposed there and in a nearby district as part of efforts to stop the spread of Ebola.

But the outbreak is spreading in Kampala after some Ebola patients travel there to seek treatment. Six schoolchildren attending three different schools are among at least 15 confirmed cases of Ebola in Kampala, the health minister said Wednesday, raising fears of contagion.

At least 170 contacts from the six schoolchildren are monitored, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said.

Administrators of two of the three Ebola-affected schools told the AP on Thursday that they would not close completely. But they have suspended learning for those classes attended by children with Ebola, one of whom has since died.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, expressed concern about the increase in cases in new geographic areas in a series of tweets at the end of Wednesday. “Controlling Ebola in urban areas can be complex and requires coordinated and sustained efforts to stop transmission,” he said.

There is no approved vaccine for the Sudanese strain of Ebola, but two candidate vaccines are expected to be tested in clinical trials that officials say will be launched in a few days.

The current Ebola outbreak, manifesting as a viral hemorrhagic fever, has so far infected 109 people and killed 31, including four health workers, according to the Africa CDC.

Ebola is spread by contact with the body fluids of an infected person or with contaminated materials. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Uganda has had several Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed more than 200 people. The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, the largest number of victims of the disease.

Ebola was discovered in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, where it occurred in a village near the Ebola River, hence the disease.

Uganda reports a worrying increase in Ebola cases in the capital

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