Rare Sudan strain leads to Ebola outbreak in Uganda

Ebola virus is often fatal if untreated

Published: Tuesday 27 September 2022

An outbreak of Ebola has been declared in Uganda after the relatively rare Sudan strain was discovered after a decade, according to the WHO.

A total of 23 deaths, including five confirmed patients, have been recorded from the districts of Mubende, Kyegegwa and Kassanda as of September 25, 2022.

A 24-year-old man in Uganda’s Mubende district showed symptoms like high fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and later died. He had initially been diagnosed and treated for Malaria.

The Ebola virus is often fatal if untreated. It first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, in Nzara, South Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, DRC.

The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name. There have only been 7 outbreaks of Ebola before this, 4 in Uganda and 3 in Sudan.

The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa was the largest Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976. The outbreak started in Guinea and then moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia. WHO is helping Uganda offer healthcare to the 8 suspected cases and investigating the affected area.

The last Sudan strain was reported in 2012 (when 17 out of the 24 reported cases died) and the Zaire strain was written in 2019. Uganda experienced 4 Ebola outbreaks with the one in 2000 being the most deadly.

It killed over 200 people. Uganda’s neighboring country, Congo is experiencing a resurgence of Ebola following the viral outbreaks this year.

Ring vaccination of high-risk people with the Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has controlled the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during recent outbreaks, but this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire strain.

Another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan.

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