The outbreak in Uganda has been attributed to the Sudanese strain of Ebola, which has no proven vaccine.
Uganda will hold a ministerial meeting next week on the Ebola outbreak that has caused panic in the East African region, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, three countries that suffered from the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, were also invited to the Oct. 12 meeting, acting director Ahmed Ogwell told reporters on Thursday.
The current Ebola outbreak in central Uganda has a 69% case fatality rate, which Ogwell described as “very high”, and four health workers among the 10 confirmed deaths from Ebola. 43 cases have been confirmed. No one has been to the capital Kampala.
The outbreak was attributed to the Sudanese strain of Ebola, which has no proven vaccine.
Ugandan scientists and their partners abroad are looking to deploy one of two possible vaccines against the Sudanese strain, the WHO representative in Uganda told reporters on Thursday. However, the Sabin Vaccine Institute has only 100 doses, Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam said.
“These manufacturers are looking to produce more,” he said. “We don’t have enough data to deploy it in large [population] and no supply.Currently, scientists agree that [on] Scientific agreement for the study, once the agreement is agreed…I think the vaccine will be imported into Uganda. Hopefully in less than a week. “
The study will target direct contacts of confirmed Ebola cases, he said.
Health workers were exposed to Ebola at the beginning of the outbreak “when we didn’t know what we were dealing with,” said Ogwell of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dismissing reports of infections suggesting the outbreak was out of control statement.
He said more than 860 active contacts have been listed, and at least 78 percent of them are being monitored, nearly double what they were a week ago.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has procured 20,000 test kits for the region, which will arrive in the region early next week, and will deliver a stockpile of personal protective equipment next week.
A mobile laboratory set up at a hospital near the outbreak has reduced the turnaround time for test results to six hours, said Woldemariam, who said the response of Ugandan health authorities was “improving every day”.
Ebola was initially difficult to detect because fever is also a symptom of malaria. Ebola virus manifests as a viral haemorrhagic fever, spread through contact with the bodily fluids or contaminated material of an infected person. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain, and sometimes internal and external bleeding.
Uganda has experienced multiple Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed more than 200 people.
Ebola first emerged in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease got its name.