On Wednesday, the head of the World Health Organization announced that his organisation was collaborating with Uganda in an effort to contain an Ebola outbreak in the East African country and stop it from spreading further.
According to the World Health Organization, 74 cases of Ebola have been confirmed or suspected in five different districts in Uganda. The sickness has claimed the lives of at least 39 people, while 14 others have made a full recovery. There are currently more than 660 people being monitored for possible viral exposure.
On Wednesday, World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gave an update on the state of global health from Geneva. He said that the organization’s “primary focus” was now on assisting the government of Uganda in “rapidly controlling and containing this outbreak,” preventing it from spreading to neighbouring districts and countries.
In late September, Uganda declared an Ebola epidemic after a person in a community in the country’s central area tested positive for the virus. The strain responsible for the outbreak, Sudan ebolavirus, has no approved vaccines or therapies.
The Ebola virus cannot be conveyed through the air. Disease transmission occurs when a healthy individual comes into contact with the bodily fluids of a sick or dead person. It can also be transmitted by contact with infected animals or objects.
Transmission of Ebola begins two to twenty-one days after the onset of symptoms. Eight to ten days is the typical time frame during which symptoms emerge.
Out of an abundance of caution, the United States began referring visitors who had spent time in Uganda to five airports for health screening prior to entering the nation last week. New York’s JFK, Newark’s EWR, Atlanta’s ATL, Chicago’s O’Hare, and Washington, DC’s Dulles are the airports in question. U.S. customs requires all visitors who have spent more than 21 days in Uganda to undergo medical examinations.
Federal health officials said last week that the CDC is receiving passenger information from airlines in order to do follow-ups with the travellers. Local and state health departments are also receiving this data.
To date, the United States has had no confirmed cases of Ebola. A man who had been to West Africa was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas in 2014. Two nurses who cared for him contracted the infection and ultimately recovered, but the man did not. During the 2014 epidemic, seven additional patients who contracted Ebola in West Africa were brought to the United States for care. Out of the seven, six were able to make a full recovery.
Last week, the CDC issued a warning asking local health agencies and doctors to be on the lookout for people exhibiting symptoms. Professionals in the medical field should inquire about recent travel history from anyone suspected of having the disease, but especially from those who have been to the impacted regions of Uganda. An identical warning was issued by the United Kingdom’s Health Security Agency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists Ebola symptoms as excessive bleeding, bruising, or bleeding that doesn’t stop, fever, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain, weakness and exhaustion, sore throat, lack of appetite, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
Last Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra extended an offer of assistance to his Ugandan colleague.
The World Health Organization’s head of health emergencies, Dr. Mike Ryan, said on Wednesday that the Ugandan government needed greater help from the international community to increase surveillance on the ground and stop the outbreak. Ryan feels that there is a lack of local health alerts.
Ryan affirmed that “excellent progress” was being made. “The fact that we lack self-assurance is crucial. As with any infectious disease, Ebola can bring about unexpected outcomes.”