MSF Exploratory Mission Arrives in Gulu

Gulu/Kampala/New York, 19 October 2000 — Yesterday a five persons team of the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) arrived in Gulu, north Uganda, to assist in the recent outbreak of Ebola. The team is composed of three medical staff and two logisticians. An assessment of the situation is underway. Depending on the findings, the initial activities will probably focus on case finding, case isolation, contact training and education. All actions will be undertaken in close coordination with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Another three MSF members are being sent to Kampala to reinforce the staff there. In addition, 2,000 kilograms of material has been sent to the field including hemorrhagic kits composed of sample gathering equipment, medicines (to treat the side effects of the fever), and protective clothing.

MSF has experience in handling Ebola outbreaks as well as other hemorrhagic fevers like Marburg, Yellow Fever, and Rift Valley Fever. Some members of the staff heading to this outbreak have specific experience with Ebola and Marburg. MSF was in Kikwit, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1995 when the Ebola outbreak killed 244 people. Last year, MSF also dealt with the Marburg outbreak in Durba, DRC.

Ebola is a viral infection and is passed on through close contact such as the nursing of patients. Transmission depends on contact with secrections and excretions such as feces, urine, sputum, silva, and, above all, blood. The incubation period is from two to 21 days with an average of one week. There is no drug cure or immunization for Ebola. Recovery requires intensive care and isolation of all suspected cases.