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Uganda Strengthens Disease Monitoring For Ebola

Health authorities in Uganda have strengthened their disease surveillance, following the recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Congo-Brazzaville.

The World Health Organization's representative in Uganda, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, tells VOA that health authorities in Uganda are looking for any signs of the Ebola virus in the country.

Dr. Lewis says Uganda has a system of highly trained officers who can detect contagious diseases such as Ebola, but this system has been enhanced as a precautionary measure. "We have put in place this integrated disease surveillance networking response, which is there all the time, but we are strengthening it now. The districts can rely on the center on the national level to provide any additional support that they need," he said.

The deadly hemorrhagic fever has claimed nine lives in Congo-Brazzaville since early May. Dr. Lewis says the outbreak is under control.

The virus is transmitted through infected blood, semen, and other bodily secretions or through objects infected with secretions, such as needles.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Many patients bleed internally and through external orifices.

There is no standard treatment of the virus, and anywhere from 50- to 90-percent of cases are fatal.

Dr. Lewis says there have been no cases of Ebola reported in Uganda since May's outbreak in Congo-Brazzaville. She says authorities are aware that population movements can spread the disease.

Ebola hit Northern Uganda hard in 2000. According to the World Health Organization, 224 people died from the virus during that epidemic.

The French news agency Agence France Presse quotes a Ugandan health official as saying he and his colleagues want to avoid a repeat occurrence of the epidemic, which claimed the life of a talented Ugandan doctor.

Throughout the years, Ebola has also appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Ivory Coast.