Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills two

Image caption,
Up to 90% of those who contract Ebola die from the virus

A fresh outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Uganda has killed at least two people, the health minister has said.

Christine Ondoa said two members of the same family died over the weekend not far from the capital - and a third person was also suspected to have died in that area of the haemorrhagic fever.

An estimated 17 people died in western Uganda during an outbreak in July.

According to the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), there had been no cases since August.

'Avoid gatherings'

Dr Ondoa said that investigators had found conclusive evidence of Ebola in Luweero, about 60km (37 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

A third man had also died in the area late last month after showing symptoms of Ebola however no samples were taken from the victim and the case was not reported to health officials at the times, she said.

Five people who came into contact with those who died are being monitored. Two of them have been admitted to an isolation unit at Kampala's main Mulago hospital, the minister said.

There is no known cure for Ebola, but patients can be treated for their symptoms with antibiotics, drugs for pain relief and for other diseases such as malaria, to strengthen their resistance.

Some strains of the virus cause death in 90% of human cases.

Dr Ondoa said the disease is "very infectious" and kills "in a short time", but is "easily" preventable.

Among precautionary measures she urged people to take were:

  • Avoid public gatherings, including funerals, in affected districts
  • Bury victims immediately under the supervision of health officials
  • Avoid direct contact with body fluids of Ebola patients by using gloves and masks
  • Disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person and
  • Avoid eating dead animals, especially monkeys.

Uganda has seen several major Ebola outbreaks over the past 12 years.

The deadliest was in 2000 when 425 people were infected. More than half of them died.

The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says many Ugandans are wondering why the country is so prone to Ebola outbreaks.

The government has said it is because its systems are getting better at detecting them.

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