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.
    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

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    Iran Orders Social Media Sites to Store Data Inside Country

    New requirements are expected to affect the instant messaging app Telegram, which has more than 20 million users inside Iran

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora