KAMPALA –Uganda, on Wednesday declared the end of the Ebola disease outbreak caused by Sudan ebolavirus, less than four months after the first case was confirmed in the Mubende district.
“Uganda put a swift end to the Ebola outbreak by ramping up key control measures such as surveillance, contact tracing and infection, prevention and control.
“While we expanded our efforts to put a strong response in place across the nine affected districts, the magic bullet has been our communities who understood the importance of doing what was needed to end the outbreak, and took action,” declared Dr Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, Uganda’s Minister of Health.
Experts at the forefront in the fight to halt the transmission of Ebola said that the country would have lost fewer people if the disease hadn’t been confused for malaria in its early stages.
Dr Henry Kyobe, who was the Incident Commander for the Viral Haemorrhagic Fever that was first confirmed in September last year, said that distinguishing malaria cases from Ebola was difficult – even to experienced doctors as patients complained of symptoms such as epigastria pain, joint pains and convulsions, which are usually associated with Malaria.
Dr Kyobe added that the earliest people to get infected were children and women – the most affected by malaria. Uganda lost 55 people to the disease, which mostly affected the districts of Kassanda and Mubende.
Records show that among the 55 confirmed deaths that were recorded, 19 had malaria and Ebola viral disease co-infection. Even among the 87 patients that recovered, a number also tested positive for malaria.
Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng explained that the reason it was particularly challenging for the experts to determine was the fact that while there was a surge in malaria in many parts of the country – the malaria control programme surveillance teams were not listing Mubende and Kassanda districts among those affected by the upsurge.
As a lesson, Kyobe said they should have given everyone mass treatment for malaria as prophylaxis. He said they shouldn’t have waited for people to get infected as the World Health Organisation – WHO recommends this in situations of public health emergencies of such nature.
In total Uganda had had 143 confirmed cases in this episode, which is the seventh Ebola outbreak to be recorded in the country. 59 per cent of the sufferers were males while 58 (41 per cent) were females. By age, 26 (18 per cent) were children while 117 (82 per cent) were adults.
According to Kyobe, this outbreak was controlled in a record 69 days, although he noted that to date it’s still unclear where exactly the information could have come from noting that there are high chances that it was a spill over from the wild considering the fact that Madudu sub-county where the first case was picked has a lot of caves that are habitats for bats.