Gulu free of Ebola – Uganda Virus Research Institute

Gulu free of suspected Ebola - UVRI
Health care workers, wearing protective suits. Courtesy Photo/DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Gulu is free from Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever, according to the District Health Officer. In a press statement to district authorities this afternoon, Dr. Paul Onek, the Gulu District Health Officer, says no Ebola case has been confirmed in the district.

He says results from the suspected Ebola suspect at Lacor hospital are negative. “While this is good news, both the health workers and the population should be on the alert,” reads the statement in part. He however, declined to divulge the details of the medical condition of the patient, saying it is confidential.

The statement comes after 19- year- old Annet Nalubega, a resident of Kanjjansi in Kampala was admitted at Lacor Hospital over the weekend for suspected Ebola. The patient checked in after spending three weeks in Adjumani hospital where she was taking care of her brother who was involved in a motor accident with profuse bleeding from her nose and private parts.

Dr. Cyprian Opira, the Executive Director of Lacor Hospital, says they immediately isolated the unconscious patient as a precautionary measure. “She has regained conscience but still weak,” Dr. Onek said. Dr. Onek says the district is keeping a buffer stock of medicines for managing Ebola cases in case of an outbreak.

“When the district was attacked in 2000/2001, the Centre for Disease Control set up a laboratory here but we can’t conduct such tests today. However, we are well prepared for any eventuality and we are keeping a buffer of medicines,” he said. Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu District LC V Chairperson, says the district Ebola task force will meet tomorrow to evaluate its response strategy in case of an outbreak.

The Ebola scare came barely a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the DRC Health Ministry, three people died after testing positive to the virus in the remote Likati Health District.

Ebola is a rare but deadly virus that causes bleeding inside and outside the body. It spreads through contact with the skin or bodily fluids of an infected animal or person. Medical experts say the virus wrecks the immune system and damages almost every organ. To date, the disease has no cure.

The last outbreak killed more than 11,000 when the virus swept through the West African states of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone last year. It remains the most severe outbreak of Ebola since the discovery of Ebola viruses in 1976.

Uganda has witnessed five Ebola outbreaks over the past 14 years, which have been quickly contained through a combination of epidemiological luck and a well-coordinated response system operating at several levels of the health service. The most devastating was the first Ebola outbreak in Gulu in 2000, which infected 425 people and killed 224.