It is mysterious, it kills quickly and it spreads fear and panic. Western Uganda is seeing an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, reporting at least 14 dead till yesterday. The deadly virus is seemingly making a comeback to the African country and it has taken doctors quite a while to pin it down going by the symptoms induced in the patients. This is bad news, since this suggests that the recent attack is due to some new strain, unknown or non-existent till now. This means that no medical record or research exists on this particular strain.
The center of the outbreak
The Kibaale district, lying in the center of western Uganda, has been center of the outbreak with people suffering from a mysterious illness in recent weeks. The cause was unknown and many people have left home fearing a disease caused by bad luck or evil spirits. It turns out that reality is worse than that.
The Ebola was confirmed just last night. By today morning, 20 cases have been reported and 14 have died, including a four-month old baby. With no known cure or vaccines, the disease is expected to spread really fast.
Ebola virus causes haemorrhagic fever and kills quickly. The CDC says that the Ebola disease is characterised by “fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, and stomach pain. A rash, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients”.
The scariest part is how the disease is transmitted. It may be transmitted via bodily secretions and blood. Even the dead is a potential risk. Ebola viruses survive for a long time in the body of the dead after the actual death and funerals can act as mass infecting grounds.
The Medical Organisations
Ugandan officials have been asking the public to keep calm. But that optimism isn’t necessarily shared by all medical organisations. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) are looking for a way to contain this newest attack, which brings back memories of the deadly attack in 2000, which officially left 225 people dead. More recently, a relatively minor outbreak in 2007 left about 40 dead, officially.
The authorities are fearing an epidemic. The spread of any deadly disease is facilitated by time. As more people get infected, the chances of infection rises and the number of people taking care of the infected – the doctors and nurses – also thins out, making it easier for the disease to grow even deadlier.
Diseases sever human relations. As nurses and doctors rightly fear for their lives, the number of patients increases. With diseases like this, the best hope is containment. As callous as it sounds, all we can really do is let the disease die out within a small territory.