Uganda: MSF team fights Ebola outbreak

© MSF — Hospital of Kagadi, in Western Uganda, where MSF launched an emergency intervention against an Ebola outbreak at the end of July 2012

Kagadi, 31 July 2012 — An emergency team from the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is in Kagadi, in western Uganda’s Kibaale district, to help fight an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Other MSF teams in Uganda are closely monitoring the situation.

The Ebola outbreak, confirmed by the Ugandan government on 28 July, has killed at least 14 people, while at least 20 more are suspected to be infected.

The MSF team’s priorities are to identify and care for people who have been infected, as well as all those who have been in contact with them, and to ensure that emergency medical services are functioning. They will also work to identify how and where the virus is spreading, and to isolate people who are infected so as to limit the transmission of the disease.

“It’s very important to react quickly to find where the disease is focused and to isolate it as fast as possible,” says Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF’s emergency coordinator for the Uganda Ebola intervention.  “It is also essential to take care of the caregivers – which means supporting and working closely with the Ugandan health teams who are already struggling to stop the virus from spreading.”

The Ebola hemorrhagic fever spreads rapidly through direct contact with infected people or animals, and can be transmitted through blood, bodily fluids and even contact with clothes worn by an infected person. It is caused by a virus first identified in 1976 in Sudan’s Western Equatoria province and in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo). Stringent infection control measures are crucial to limit the spread of the deadly virus.