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CDC, WHO and Uganda to host regional meeting as Ebola spreads

NAIROBI, Kenya – The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Uganda will host a ministerial meeting next week on the outbreak of the Sudanese strain of Ebola virus, which has no proven vaccine and has seeded the alarm in the East African region.

Acting director Ahmed Ogwell told reporters on Thursday that the three countries that suffered from the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-16, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, are also being invited. at the October 12 meeting.

The current Ebola outbreak in central Uganda has a case fatality rate of 69%, which Ogwell described as “very high”, and four health workers are among 10 people confirmed to have died from Ebola. There have been 43 confirmed cases. None have been in the capital, Kampala.

Ugandan scientists and their partners abroad are seeking to deploy one of two possible vaccines against the Sudanese strain of Ebola, the WHO representative in Uganda told reporters on Thursday. But there are only 100 doses of the vaccine from the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam.

“These manufacturers are looking to produce more,” he said. “We don’t have enough data to deploy it in a large (population) and the offer is not there. Currently the scientists are agreeing on the scientific protocol for the study and as soon as the protocol is agreed … I think the vaccine will be imported into Uganda, hopefully in less than a week.

Immediate contacts of confirmed Ebola cases would be targeted in the study, he said.

Africa CDC’s Ogwell said health workers were exposed to Ebola early in the outbreak “when we didn’t know what we were dealing with”, and he dismissed the suggestion that infections were signaling that the epidemic was spiraling out of control.

He said more than 860 active contacts have been listed and at least 78% of them are being monitored, a situation that has almost doubled in the past week.

The Africa CDC said it has procured 20,000 test kits which are expected to arrive early next week for the region, and it will ship stocks of personal protective equipment next week.

A mobile laboratory set up in a hospital near the outbreak has reduced the time it takes to get test results to six hours, according to Woldemariam, who said the Ugandan health authorities’ response was improving “every day”.

Ebola can be difficult to detect at first because fever is also a symptom of malaria. Ebola, which manifests as viral hemorrhagic fever, is transmitted through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids or contaminated materials. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.

Uganda has experienced several Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed more than 200 people.

Ebola first appeared in 1976 during two simultaneous epidemics in South Sudan and Congo, where it occurred in a village near the Ebola River, hence the name of the disease.

This story has been corrected to indicate that four health workers have died of the 10 confirmed deaths.

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