U.S. health experts have traced an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Uganda's Gulu District to Sudan. American experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say the latest outbreak of the killer fever is Ebola Sudan, one of three strains that can infect humans. It raises the possibility that members of the rebel group, Lord's Resistance Army, based in southern Sudan, may have introduced the disease during their cross-border attacks on northern Uganda.
Ebola is a horrific disease. It can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. Victims develop flu-like symptoms, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from all of their bodily orifices. The Ebola virus is passed through body fluids. There is no cure.
LRA rebels have released 40 adults they recently abducted, because they fear some may have the hemorrhagic virus. Gulu District chairman Lieutenant Colonel Walter Ochora said the rebels told their captives to go home because they do not want to catch Ebola from them.
The LRA has been fighting a 13-year war against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's government, and has kidnapped thousands of children, who are used as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.
U.N. agencies in Kampala estimate that several thousand abducted Ugandans are still in LRA camps in Sudan.
On Friday, the World Health Organization said the death toll in the Gulu district of northern Uganda had risen to 47 out of a total of 122 Ebola cases. The WHO praised local health workers and international agencies for their swift action to contain the Ebola outbreak after it was identified on October 14.
Ugandan government officials say the disease is under control and should be contained within the next two weeks.
This is the first time Ebola has been found in Uganda. The virus is named after the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the first case was recorded in 1976. That epidemic killed more than 270 people. Ebola was last recorded in 1979 in southern Sudan, where medical experts believe the current outbreak originated.