Since the declaration of a rare Ebola outbreak in Uganda on September 20, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working with the ministry of health to set up an initial emergency response to prevent the virus from spreading and treat people who are sick.
The Ugandan ministry of health has confirmed 43 cases of Ebola and reported 29 deaths across five districts. Ebola is a serious and often deadly viral disease with a mortality rate of up to 90 percent, and its symptoms can range from fever to kidney and liver failure to internal and external bleeding. The last Ebola outbreak in Uganda was in 2019.
MSF has a long history of responding to various Ebola outbreaks, including in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 2018 to 2020. These outbreaks were caused by the Zaire strain of the virus, for which there are now two approved vaccines and a treatment. However, the current outbreak in Uganda is caused by a relatively rare variant of the virus known as the Sudan strain, for which there is no approved vaccine or treatment.
Given this, traditional methods of fighting the virus are critical, including ensuring that supportive care and testing are available close to people's homes through a decentralized approach, proper infection prevention and control measures are implemented in health facilities, and community-based surveillance of the virus and contact tracing are carried out.