December 07, 2007

Kampala/Geneva, December 7, 2007 - On November 29, the Ugandan Ministry of Health confirmed a case of Ebola in the western region of the country. On December 1, after carrying out a rapid assessment, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) set up isolation units in the Kikyo health center and the Bundibugyo hospital.

Currently, two outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever have been identified in Kikyo and Bundibugyo, Uganda. The extent of the epidemic is not yet known.

As of December 6, 93 cases have been recorded at the Bundibugyo hospital and the Kikyo health center. Of those, 22 people have died, including four health care workers. The virus was confirmed in nine cases through laboratory tests.

No treatment is yet available for this highly contagious illness. The viral strains known today cause death in 50-90 percent of cases. Suspected cases must be isolated and health care workers must implement strict barrier nursing techniques.

On December 1, an MSF team composed of 12 specialists in hemorrhagic fever set up two isolation units in the area. On December 5, 25 patients were treated in the Bundibugyo hospital unit. From December 1 to 5, nine new patients were admitted and the number of hospitalized cases is increasing. Fifteen patients were hospitalized in the Kikyo isolation unit on the same date.

MSF is organizing community awareness and information campaigns in the affected areas to reduce contamination risks, particularly during funerals of deceased patients.

Additional medical and non-medical staff will arrive to support the MSF team in the next few days. The team will then be able to expand its activities to persons who have had contact with patients and to monitor suspected cases in neighboring towns.

MSF is working closely with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. The organization also took part in treating people infected during an Ebola epidemic in Gulu, Uganda in 2000.