Ebola Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again in Uganda

Several deadly cases of Ebola in Uganda have officials worried that a much larger outbreak of the disease may close at hand. Over the course of July, 14 Ugandans have passed away due to the consequences of the deadly disease and at least 26 new cases have been brought to the attention of local hospitals and medical personnel. With these numbers expected to rise, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged residents of the west African country to be wary and steer clear of unnecessary contact.

“Ebola spreads by contact when you contact each other physically…Avoid shaking hands, because that can cause contact through sweat, which can cause problems,” Museveni warned residents in a broadcast to the country. “Do not take on burying somebody who has died from symptoms that look like Ebola—instead call health care workers because they know how to do it.” Museveni also encouraged residents to “avoid promiscuity” as that can be another conduit for the disease to travel.

And with good reason, too: Ebola is a highly infectious disease and is capable of being transmitted easily through the slightest of contacts. Although rare, Ebola is incredibly destructive and is often characterized by fever, weakness, pain in joints and muscles, sore throat and headaches. As the disease progresses in the body, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains severely dehydrate and weaken patients (not all, but many also will develop painful skin rashes all over the body and red eyes). Eventually, both internal and external bleeding will force the patient to succumb to the disease. Without a certain cure, the Ebola virus is able to kill the vast majority of those who become infected.

While it is still unknown where the disease originated, Uganda provides the perfect mix of elements for unstoppable growth. The landscape and climate allow the disease to breed and multiply into worrisome amounts. Dense rainforests harbor the disease and populations of bats help with the distribution. And because of these conditions, Uganda is no stranger to outbreaks—in 2000, many people in the northern region of the country were infected and 224 people died. In 2007, 42 were killed in western Uganda, and one 12-year-old girl died from the disease in 2011.

To make sure that this recent spout does not get out of hand, multiple global health organizations including members of the Ministry of Health of Uganda (MoH), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are already on the grounds. “These outbreaks have a tendency to stamp themselves out, if you will, if we can get in and…stop the chain of transmission,” explained Tom Skinner, spokesman for the CDC.

Daily field research reports along with neighborhood-wide surveillance have been organized by the MoH, and the WHO are recommending that travelers, for now, skip their trips to Uganda. In order to better protect the people of Uganda (and all they come into contact with), these organizations must be encouraged to continue their work until the threat is minimized. To push WHO to continue its work in targeting and eliminating the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, sign the petition here.


Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ebola_virus_particles.jpg

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