In an accelerated effort to scale up the response to the Ebola outbreak in Uganda, the World Health Organization (WHO) is delivering medical supplies, providing logistics and deploying personnel to help national authorities stop the spread of the virus.
So far, seven cases, including one death, have been confirmed to have contracted Sudan Ebolavirus, one of six species of the Ebolavirus genus.
43 contacts have been identified and 10 people suspected of having contracted the virus are receiving treatment at the regional referral hospital in Mubende, the district where the disease was confirmed this week, making it the first time that Uganda has detected Ebola from Sudan.
Mubende is located in the central region of Uganda and is about a two-hour drive from the capital, Kampala, and is along a busy highway that leads to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There are gold mines in the area, which attract people from different parts of Uganda, as well as other countries.
The mobile nature of the Mubende population increases the risk of possible spread of the virus.
WHO has deployed a technical team to Mubende district to support surveillance, infection prevention and control, and case management.
The Organization is also assisting in the activation of monitoring structures in neighboring districts and is redeploying its staff in the country to reinforce the response.
In addition, five international experts will be deployed, with the number increasing if necessary.
“We are acting quickly and decisively to take control of this outbreak.
Our experts are already working on the ground with Uganda's experienced Ebola control teams to strengthen surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and preventive measures," said Dr. Abdou Salam Gueye, Regional Director of Emergencies at the Regional Office.
of the WHO for Africa.
"Africa's increased local emergency preparedness is proving increasingly crucial to tackling outbreaks like Ebola."
Due to previous outbreaks from Uganda and the threat of importation of cases from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo which has battled several outbreaks, WHO and the Ministry of Health have collaborated on many preparedness activities, the latest such exercise was in August 2022, where nine Ugandan doctors received training on how to manage viral haemorrhagic fevers and are now working on the response.
The WHO already has six viral haemorrhagic fever kits in Uganda, and one has been delivered to Mubende.
Although there are no therapies that specifically treat the Sudan ebolavirus species, early identification of cases and treatment of symptoms greatly increases the chances of survival.
Current evidence shows that the ERVEBO vaccine, which is highly effective against Zaire ebolavirus, does not provide cross-protection against Sudan ebolavirus.
There are at least six Sudanese ebolavirus vaccine candidates that are in different stages of development.
Three of them have Phase 1 data (safety and immunogenicity data in humans) and the rest are in the preclinical evaluation phase.
The WHO Research and Development Plan team is in contact with all developers and is leading a collaborative effort involving international experts to determine which vaccines may be suitable for further evaluation during this outbreak (and whether doses with required standards are available) in case more cases are confirmed.
There is a BASIC protocol for its evaluation and WHO will discuss the proposed next steps with the Ugandan authorities to seek their approval.
WHO today held a press conference led by Dr. Patrick Otim, Health Emergencies Officer, Acute Event Management Unit, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
He was joined by Dr. Kyobe Henry Bbosa, Ebola Incident Commander, Uganda Ministry of Health; Dr. Ana Maria Henao-Restrepo, co-director of the research and development plan for epidemics, WHO Health Emergencies Program; and William A.
Fischer II, MD, Director of Emerging Pathogens at the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases and Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of North Carolina.