Rare “Sudan Strain” has been identified.
Public health officials have declared an Ebola outbreak in Uganda as four people died in the latest set of cases.
Uganda’s health ministry said it had confirmed 11 cases of Ebola in total, including the four deaths.
The current outbreak, attributed to the Ebola Sudan strain, appears to have started in a small village in Mubende district around the beginning of September, authorities say.
Seven other deaths are being investigated for being linked to the outbreak in Mubende, around 130 km west of the capital Kampala.
The first casualty was a 24-year old man who died earlier this week.
The strain is less transmissible than Ebola Zaire, Patrick Otim, health emergency officer at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa said at the briefing, adding that it had a lower fatality rate in previous outbreaks.
However, Otim said the Sudan strain posed a greater threat because the world did not yet have a vaccine for it like it has with the Zaire strain.
“So it’s very, very critical that at this point we treat this outbreak as serious because we may not have the advantage that we have gained in terms of advancement in medical countermeasures,” he said.
As a reminder, Ebola is a potentially deadly hemorrhagic virus with fever, vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhea being the main symptoms. Outbreaks are difficult to contain, especially in urban environments, and have been regular occurrences in the region.
People who are infected do not become contagious until symptoms appear, which is after an incubation period of between two and 21 days.
At present there is no licensed medication to prevent or treat Ebola, although a range of experimental drugs are in development and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and some neighbouring countries.
The worst epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 killed more than 11,300 alone. The DRC has had more than a dozen epidemics, the deadliest killing 2,280 people in 2020.
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