According to the WHO, the country is well armed against an Ebola epidemic, but there is no vaccine against the current virus variant.
The Ebola epidemic, which the Ugandan health authority announced last week, is spreading. According to official information from the East African country, four people died from the virus, and the pathogen was also found in 16 patients. Another 18 people are suspected of being infected. The cases were still limited to three districts in central Uganda, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Health. No case is known from the capital Kampala, 150 kilometers away.
Ebola is one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world. You can fall victim to between 25 and 90 percent of those infected. Those infected die painfully from internal bleeding, for which there were neither cures nor vaccinations until the most devastating outbreak in December 2013 in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Around 11,300 people died at that time. There are now drugs and vaccines, but they were all developed using the so-called Zaire variant of the virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the drugs are not or only partially effective against the “Sudan variant” on which the outbreak in Uganda is based. However, the Sudan variant is said to be less contagious and less deadly than the Zaire virus.
Hundreds of contacts
According to the WHO, Uganda is relatively well armed against Ebola outbreaks. The country has a laboratory to detect the virus, a surveillance program and trained professionals. Nevertheless, the health authority apparently still has difficulties in identifying contact persons. 213 contacts of the infected were identified, a good half were nurses, announced the government epidemic officer, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Kyobe. Within the population, the contacts are probably much higher. The first known case is a 24-year-old who died in the Mubende district. Mubende is on a main road linking Kampala and the Congo and has minor gold deposits. Circumstances that ensure high mobility of the population and problems in finding contacts.
The vaccine Ervebo, developed by the US pharmaceutical company Merck, is said to have a very good effect in protecting against the Zaire variant. However, the vaccine is not approved against the Sudan variant. A Johnson and Johnson vaccine has not yet been tested and approved to deal with the Sudan virus. A total of six variants of the Ebola pathogen are known, of which “Zaire” is considered the deadliest.