News / Africa

Uganda, US CDC Cooperate on Ebola

A police officer helps a worker to put on his gloves to protect himself from virus infection, July 31, 2012 at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala.
A police officer helps a worker to put on his gloves to protect himself from virus infection, July 31, 2012 at the Mulago Hospital in Kampala.
TEXT SIZE - +
Andrew Green
ENTEBBE — Two more deaths were confirmed Wednesday in Uganda’s ongoing Ebola outbreak, raising the total to 16. Officials are fighting to prevent further transmission of the virus. Through a partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the country is uniquely positioned to respond quickly to suspected cases of Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses.

Representatives from the World Health Organization say 36 possible Ebola cases have been reported in Uganda, mostly in the west of the country. At least one death occurred in Kampala, raising concerns that the virus had reached the capital. However, there is no evidence of any transmission within the city.

Virus hunters

Ebola is no stranger to Uganda. Last year a 12-year-old girl living an hour outside of Kampala died from the virus. Thirty-nine people died in a 2007 outbreak in an area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But unlike other countries in the region that have seen similar outbreaks, Uganda has a team of virus hunters from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on hand to respond quickly to hemorrhagic fevers, like Ebola.

The CDC has been working with Uganda’s Virus Research Institute in Entebbe for more than a decade. Dr. Trevor Shoemaker, a CDC epidemiologist, says they formalized the relationship two years ago by developing a fully functioning laboratory on the institute’s campus to rapidly diagnose possible cases of Ebola and other hemorrhagic viruses.

"In previous outbreaks there’s been a long period of time between the first initial suspect case presenting to the hospital and then the initial diagnosis of it either being a hemorrhagic fever. So this laboratory was set up to narrow that amount of time, to close that gap," he explains.

Related  - Uganda’s Latest Ebola Virus Outbreak Spotlights Poorly-Understood Killer

CDC involvement

Shoemaker says the CDC chose to work in Uganda because of the region’s history of hemorrhagic virus outbreaks. While there are different risks at different times of the year, Uganda and much of the region have many of the necessary factors, including the animal population, necessary for an outbreak.

There are two full-time CDC staff members on site to monitor samples that arrive from around the country. Shoemaker says several other people at the neighboring Institute are also trained to assist in the event like the current outbreak.

The CDC and Uganda’s Ministry of Health have also set up six surveillance sites around the country. One is within 150 kilometers of the suspected origin of the current outbreak in Kibaale District in western Uganda. Local teams have been trained to identify potential cases, collect samples and immediately alert the lab.

In this case, ministry officials told the Cable News Network diagnosis of the virus was delayed because some patients did not seek treatment immediately or did not show traditional signs of Ebola. But Shoemaker says once a suspected case is reported, the lab is able to quickly do an initial confirmation and alert a response team to start containing the spread.

Quick response

During last year’s case, the lab was able to assemble an international response within days.

"The next day after our initial preliminary diagnostics here that told us it could be Ebola, we were out in the field the next day. And while we’re out there the confirmation testing is going on here. It’s a good example of how once we get that initial positive result, we can mobilize a team," said Shoemaker.

In the current outbreak, officials are still in the process of tracking all the people who might have come in contact with infected patients. In the meantime, the government has called on people to avoid physical contact and large crowds until the outbreak is over.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid