Uganda struggling to contain outbreak of untreatable Ebola strain

October 21, 2022
Uganda struggling to contain outbreak of untreatable Ebola strain

A strain of the Ebola virus – for which there is no treatment – has been infecting people in the East African country of Uganda, with as many as 63 cases of infection and 29 deaths reported. The cases represent the largest Ebola outbreak in Uganda.

Patients with the Ebola virus initially go through bouts of headache and fever, slowly but surely progressing to widespread internal bleeding; unsurprisingly, it has a mortality rate of over 50%. Although Ebola only spreads through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person, caretakers and healthcare workers still remain vulnerable.

The growing number of cases involving the current strain of the virus, known as the Sudan strain, is particularly concerning because there is no approved vaccine or treatment available. However, two potential vaccine candidates are under development, by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Oxford, respectively.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), both vaccines will be deployed to Uganda within two weeks, despite not knowing their potency against the viral strain.

Jane Aceng, Uganda’s health secretary, explained that the virus was able to establish a foothold as locals at first believed that the symptoms were caused by witchcraft, and as such didn’t seek medical care. The first Ebola cases were recorded in the Mubende district, in a community of traders living around a gold mine.

Besides the infected traders, four of the victims of the outbreak have been health workers, said WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

There have been several Ebola outbreaks in this part of Africa, including in Uganda’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of Congo, but these were caused by the Zaire strain of the virus. By and large, they’ve been kept under control through the use of vaccines, treatment campaigns, and other health measures – two vaccine types and one monoclonal antibody treatment were also approved against that strain.

Aceng added that the country has repeatedly called on the international community to provide aid in the shape of specialists and personal protective equipment. Uganda’s ability to contain the outbreak is currently depleted as the country is working to simultaneously contain or prevent the resurgence of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV; its health sector is also still reeling from the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Category: Uncategorized

Comments are closed.