Follow Up

 
Published: Thursday 30 November 2000

At least 80 people have died in Uganda due to the deadly Ebola filovirus. "The number of people known to be infected with the deadly fever rose to 251, said Francis Omaswa," the director general of Uganda's medical services. The disease has left maximum impact on the town of Gulu. Experts from the World Health Organisation (who) and Boston-based us Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are helping the Ugandan authorities to deal with the problem. The first case of the disease was reported on October 14, 2000 ( Down To Earth , Vol 9, No 12).

"We continue to receive reports of suspected cases from various parts of the country," Omaswa said. He added that most of the Ebola patients were in the early stages of fever. "There is much less danger of the infection spreading in the early stage because the disease gets more infectious later in the cycle when the infection spreads to the skin," says Gregory Hartl, a spokesperson of who. Information about the disease is being provided via a telephone hotline and an Internet Web site.

The virus has made a reappearance in the country after a gap of more than five years. Epidemics such as this have been attributed to the destruction of rain forests. Uganda is badly equipped to deal with the problem. There is an acute shortage of protective gear such as gowns, masks and boots along with body bags to bury the dead safely. Ebola is an incurable disease. The virus is highly contagious and is spread through body fluids such as saliva, blood and mucus. Four days after exposure, flu-like symptoms set in, followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. 10 to 15 days later, the victims bleed through the nose, mouth and eyes. Blood and other fluids also begin seeping through the skin, producing painful blisters, finally leading to death.

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