Ebola outbreak: MSF sends first team
17 October 2000
MSF has sent an exploratory mission to Gulu, Uganda to assist in the recent outbreak of Ebola that has been recently confirmed there. The team is expected to be in Gulu by midweek. The Ebola outbreak was confirmed, after tests, on October 16. This is the first known Ebola outbreak in Uganda. The four person team is currently comprised of three medical staff and one logistician and the initial activities will focus on: education; case finding; case isolation and contact training in the Gulu district. The team includes members with experience dealing with hemmorhagic fevers, including Marburg. An additional three MSF members are being sent to Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to reinforce staff there. A stand-by team is also being prepared that will go to Uganda if necessary. In addition, 2,000 kgs of material has been sent to the field including hemorraghic kits composed of; sample gathering equipment, medicines and protective clothing As of October 16, the total number of cases was 71. Deaths were 38. (source: Ugandan Ministry of Health) MSF has some experience in handling Ebola outbreaks as well as Marburg and other hemorrhagic fevers. Some of the MSF staff heading to this outbreak have specific experience with Ebola. MSF was in Kitwit, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995 when the outbreak killed 244 people. There were 315 identified cases. Ebola is a viral infection and is passed on through close contact such as the nursing of patients. Nosocomial transmission depends on contact with blood, secretions and excretions (faeces, urine, sputum, blood and saliva) The incubation period is from 2-21 days with an average of one week Symptoms include abrupt, flew-like symptoms, fever, headache, general malaise, joint pain, sore throat commonly followed by diarrhoea and abdominal pain. After about one week: rash, desquamates. After the third day, haemorrhage manifestation are common, including petechiae and bleeding from any part of the gastrointestinal tract. Some go into shock and die. There is no drug cure or immunisation for ebola. Recovery requires intensive care and isolation of all suspected cases. Ebola is neither common nor widespread. However outbreaks appear periodically in Africa. The disease was first identified in 1976 and, since then, outbreaks have occurred in Gabon, Sudan, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. It was named after the river that ran through the area it was first discovered.