August 15, 2013

Ebola Like Virus Reported In Agago District

There is panic and confusion in Agago district after four people were admitted at Kalongo Hospital with signs of Ebola virus.

A patient suffering from Ebola being treated
A patient suffering from Ebola being treated

The District Health Officer Dr Emmanuel Otto said that the virus has been confirmed as the deadly Ebola Haemorrhagic fever.

Rukia Nakamatte, the Ministry of Health publicist has refuted the allegations.

A nurse at the hospital, who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told this newspaper that the first patient escaped from the Hospital on Wednesday August 14 shortly after his blood samples were taken for testing.

The nurse further said that when the results returned on Thursday, they were positive but the patient was nowhere to be seen.

Three more cases have been reported in Omot Sub County and they are all being treated at Kalongo Hospital.

Dr. Emmanuel Otto told this newspaper that the Ministry of Health has confirmed the strain of the virus to be Congo Ebola type.

He also said that when the patient was first taken to Kalongo hospital with symptoms similar to that presented by Ebola victims, the district health office got suspicious and took blood samples to the government virus research centre.

Otto says their suspicion was confirmed when the ministry informed them later in the day that the disease was confirmed to be Ebola.

He also said that the district emergency team is holding a meeting at Kalongo Hospital to draw an emergency plan to combat the disease.

The patients are currently receiving treatment at the hospital.

Dr. Otto has appealed to the residents in the district to be calm as the health team handles the situation.

Nakamatte has however insisted that there is no Ebola in Agago, noting that they have just checked the weekly epidemiological survey report and that there was no information confirming the outbreak.

She however said a team from the ministry was on the ground in Agago.

After a short while, Nakamatte who had earlier told this newspaper that all was fine, talked to us again saying there is an Ebola-like virus in Agago but not Ebola itself.

She also said that a team from the Ministry of Health was sent to look for the patient who had been discharged from Kalongo Hospital.

Efforts to reach Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health were futile since our calls went unanswered.

This is not the first time Ebola and other diseases have hit northern Uganda. Since 2009, the region has been battling the nodding syndrome commonly known as the nodding disease that has affected more than 3000 children.

Over the past 12 years, Uganda has been prone to Ebola outbreak with the last recorded cases in 2012 when at least 17 people were killed mainly in Kibaale and Luweero districts.

In 2000, an Ebola outbreak killed 224 people in Gulu district. Among the dead was the then director of St Mary’s Hospital Lacor, Dr Matthew Lukwiya.

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