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Uganda confirmed first Ebola case, prompting rapid response

NAIROBI, Kenya — On Tuesday, Uganda announced to the world that Ebola had broken out in the country’s western district of Kasese with the index case being a five-year-old boy back from his recent visit to the neighboring the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Ugandan health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, told Globe Afrique that a rapid response team comprising members from the ministry of health, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control is in Kasese to increase efforts by medical teams already in the area.

The minister said the team will continue with various activities including contact tracing and case management.

According to the ministry of health, the boy returned to Uganda on June 10 with his mother who had gone to the DRC to nurse her father who had succumbed to Ebola.

Minister Aceng said beginning June 14, the contacts to the index case and other non-vaccinated frontline health workers would be vaccinated against the disease.

“The ministry would like to assure the public that the vaccine that will be given is very safe and effective. Contacts and frontline workers should willingly take the vaccine for their own and family protection,” she said.

She said the country’s preparedness has been switched to a response mode, urging the public to cooperate with officials to prevent further spread of Ebola to other parts of the country.

“With the experience and expertise available in the country and the over 10 months of preparedness, the disease will be contained,” Aceng said. “We appeal to the public to remain calm and report any suspected cases to the nearest health facility.”

According to WHO, Uganda has previous experience in managing Ebola outbreaks.

Ebola is a highly infectious disease spread through body contact with an infected person. It presents symptoms including high fever, bleeding, diarrhea and red eyes, among others, according to the WHO.

Mortality rates of Ebola fever, according to the health body are extremely high, with the human case fatality rate ranging from 50 percent to 89 percent, depending on viral subtype.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.

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