Ebola still not under control in Uganda
6 November 2000
The Ebola epidemic in the north of Uganda is still not under control. As of October 30, 244 people have been infected with the virus and 73 have died. While the measures taken so far have clearly been successful, there is still a chance of the epidemic spreading beyond the Gulu district and there have been some cases with strong clinical evidence appearing in neighbouring areas. The MSF team in Gulu is mainly isolating infected patients and giving training in how to prevent the disease, tracing cases of the disease and providing information. The team consists of three doctors and two logisticians working in close collaboration with the Ugandan Ministry of Health. MSF is also helping to set up isolation wards in hospitals. A large number of measures have been taken to prevent the dreaded disease from spreading. These include a brochure which has been sent to all clinics and health centres warning about the dangers of infection. Nursing staff and other carers are at particularly high risk. In Gulu hospital, only one relative per patient is allowed to help with care. Nursing personnel and relatives of patients are required to wear protective clothing. Local people have been asked not to carry out traditional death rituals for the time being, as there are indications that these can play an important role in spreading the disease; the custom is for the family to wash the body of the diseased, which can be source of contamination. The dead must be buried as quickly as possible in order to prevent infection.