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Health Ministry to Conduct Ebola Ring Vaccination in Kasese

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So far eight people who had contact with the boy are under surveillance. The Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk, and ensure they are monitored and provided with care if they also become ill. People who have been in contact with someone with the disease are offered vaccine and asked to monitor their health for 21 days to ensure they do not become ill as well.
Health Workers on the Ebola Frontline - Photo courtesy of WHO

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The Ministry of Health is set to carry out ring vaccination of all persons believed to have come into contact with a confirmed Ebola case in Kasese district.  The vaccination is scheduled to start on Thursday, June 14, 2019.

It will cover all persons suspected to have come into contact with a five-year-old boy, who tested positive to Ebola on Tuesday, June 11, all persons who came into contact with the direct contacts, and at-risk health workers who were not previously vaccinated.  

The confirmed case is a boy believed to have entered Uganda from the Bwera border crossing located in Kasese District from DRC on June 9, 2019, in the company of his mother. The two had travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo last week to attend the burial of a relative.

On their journey back, they came with four other relatives, two of whom have so far presented with symptoms of Ebola, a severe illness that is spread through contact with the body fluids of a person sick with the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, the family sought treatment at Kagando Hospital where Health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness.  

The Child was later transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for Management while awaiting results of medical tests from the Uganda Virus Research Institute.  

So far eight people who had contact with the boy are under surveillance. The Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk, and ensure they are monitored and provided with care if they also become ill. People who have been in contact with someone with the disease are offered the vaccine and asked to monitor their health for 21 days to ensure they do not become ill as well.  

The devastating news of Ebola in Uganda comes ten months’ after an outbreak of the deadly viral disease was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August last year.  As of June 4, 2019, a total of 2025 Ebola cases had been recorded, they include 1931 confirmed and 94 probable cases. A total of 1357 deaths were reported, a case fatality ratio of 67 per cent.  

Health Minister Dr Jane Aceng says that the Health Ministry surveillance teams are carrying out contact tracing to establish who else might need vaccination.        

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Uganda has previous experiences managing Ebola outbreaks. In preparation for a possible imported case during the current outbreak in DRC, Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4700 health workers in 165 health facilities, including in the facility where the child is being cared for.

So far a total of 4420 health care workers and frontline workers from 13 high-risk districts were vaccinated against Ebola using the Ebola rV5V vaccine. The vaccine is produced by Merck. According to the World Health Organization, the vaccine offers up to 95 per cent protection against Ebola for one year.  

A total of 1,170 doses are available at the moment for the vaccination exercise that is expected to start this week.

Uganda has previously declared two Ebola outbreaks in the country. In October 2000, Uganda declared an Ebola outbreak in Gulu where an estimated 425 people are reported to have passed away due to Ebola.

In November 2007, another outbreak was declared in Bundibugyo district. The virus is reported to have killed affected 176 people, killing 36.     

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