Uganda declares Ebola outbreak after 1 person dies of rare Sudan strain

Sudan strain’s case fatality rates ranged from 41% to 100% in previous outbreaks

By Arya Rohini
Published: Wednesday 21 September 2022
The outbreak was declared after a 24-year-old man in Mubende presented symptoms and later died. Photo: WHO
The outbreak was declared after a 24-year-old man in Mubende presented symptoms and later died. Photo: WHO The outbreak was declared after a 24-year-old man in Mubende presented symptoms and later died. Photo: WHO

An outbreak of Ebola has been declared in Uganda following the confirmation of a relatively rare Sudan strain case, stated the country’s health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The outbreak was declared September 20, 2022, after a 24-year-old man in Mubende presented symptoms and later died.

“We want to inform the country that we have an outbreak of Ebola which we confirmed yesterday,” said Diana Atwine, Uganda health ministry’s permanent secretary, in a press release.

The patient was vomiting blood, had a high fever and was suffering from diarrhoea and stomach pain, Atwine added.

The declaration comes after a National Rapid Response team investigation into six mysterious deaths that struck the district this month. Eight suspected patients are currently undergoing treatment in a medical facility.

“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

Uganda reported an epidemic of the Sudan strain for the first time in more than a decade. We are collaborating closely with the health authorities to investigate the cause of this outbreak. We will quickly roll out efforts to swiftly implement efficient control measures, he added.

The Sudan ebolavirus has caused seven prior epidemics, with four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan. Sudan ebolavirus outbreaks were last reported in Uganda in 2012.

The virus was imported from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was dealing with a serious epidemic in its northeastern region.

In recent Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, ring vaccination of high-risk individuals with the Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in containing the disease. However, this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire strain of the virus.

Another vaccine developed by Johnson and Johnson is likely to be effective, but it is yet to be particularly tested against the Sudan strain.

Ebola is a severe and, too often, fatal illness caused by the Ebola virus. In previous outbreaks, it has killed as many as 90 per cent of the people it infected, according to the WHO.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission.

Early identification, treatment and care with the best supportive care — including hydration and electrolyte replacement and symptom therapy — have greatly improved survival in previous Ebola outbreaks and responses.

Three of its six strains — Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire — have historically been responsible for major outbreaks. In previous outbreaks, the Sudan virus’ case fatality rate ranged from 41 per cent to 100 per cent. Early commencement of supportive care can drastically lower Ebola-related deaths.

The WHO August 19 had published its first guidelines for Ebola virus disease therapeutics, emphasising the use of two monoclonal antibodies. The antibodies mAb114 and REGN-EB3 have demonstrated clear benefits for people who have tested positive for EbolaThe WHO urged the global community to improve access to these lifesaving medications.

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