Ugandan officials face Ebola outbreak

Posted at 9:10 PM, Jul 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-29 19:25:21-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – Ugandan authorities did not initially detect an Ebola outbreak because patients weren’t showing typical symptoms of the lethal virus, the nation’s health minister told CNN Sunday.

Patients had fevers and were vomiting, but did not show other typical symptoms like hemorrhaging, Health Minister Dr. Christine Ondoa said.

A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was on the way to Uganda to provide laboratory support to officials dealing with the virus, which health authorities say has left at least 14 people dead in the east African nation this month.

A medic who was treating victims is among the dead, Ondoa said.

Officials are trying to determine the extent of the outbreak, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said Sunday.

About five people from the Atlanta-based centers were expected to join a group of CDC staffers who are permanently based in Uganda, Skinner said.

“These outbreaks have a tendency to stamp themselves out, if you will, if we can get in and … stop the chain of transmission,” he said.

Ondoa described the Ebola-Sudan strain detected as “mild” compared to other types of Ebola, noting that victims’ lives can be saved with intervention.

A total of 20 cases of the virus have been recorded, officials said Saturday.

The cases have emerged in Kibaale, a district in midwestern Uganda, where a national task force had been mobilized in an effort to combat the outbreak.

Officials from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control are also supporting that effort, ministry officials say.

The Ebola virus is considered a highly infectious disease spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, with symptoms that include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, measles-like rash, red eyes and at times bleeding from body openings.

Health officials urged the public to report suspected cases and avoid contact with anyone who has contracted the virus and to disinfect the bedding and clothing of an infected person by using protective gloves and masks.

Officials also advised against eating dead animals, especially monkeys, and to avoid public gatherings in the affected district.

CNN’s Nick Valencia, David Ariosto, Nana Karikari-apau, Jennifer Deaton and Miriam Falco contributed to this report.