The infamous Ebola virus, which includes a terrifyingly high rate of death after contraction as well as severe symptoms such as fever, bleeding and diarrhea, has broken out in Uganda over the last few weeks. CNN notes that at least 16 people have already died in the African nation since this newest outbreak started.
While health officials were quick to start treatment and quarantine procedures as soon as the Ebola outbreak was confirmed, fears of contagion remain high. A prisoner being treated for Ebola escaped from the treatment facility on Friday night, causing panic among authorities. They are unsure if the man, one of five prisoners receiving treatment for the virus, actually contracted Ebola. If so, he has the potential to spread it anywhere in the country. In a surprising statement, Jackson Amune, an official with the Ministry of Health said this:
Should his results come back and he is positive, that causes us a lot of worry. So right now, we have resolved that the remaining prisoners will be cuffed on the beds for fear that they might also escape.
Possible cases of the virus have spread quickly throughout the original rural, western district of Kibaale, where the Ebola outbreak was first unearthed. There are as many as 312 suspected cases and 53 confirmed cases. The illness is transmitted through direct human contact with bodily fluids. Health officials are trying to limit travel between areas and have been disseminating masks and gloves to reduce the likelihood of infection.
Health officials have seen some encouraging signs from 32 of the cases currently being treated in isolation. The virus normally has a mortality rate around 70 percent, but a large number of current cases are showing signs of improvement. Health officer Dan Kyamanywa told Reuters:
There are signs of optimism because a big number of the 32 patients we have in isolation are recovering. In fact 9 of the 32 are doing very well and if they keep their current recovery momentum we might discharge them soon.
It took officials a while to confirm that this current outbreak was Ebola since many of the victims had symptoms that were atypical of the virus. The delay allowed the outbreak to spread away from the original village where a family was hit by the outbreak, accounting for a majority of the original cases, according to Z6Mag.
Some officials were worried that Ebola had spread to Kenya where two suspected cases had been tested. Those test results came back negative, giving officials hope that the current epidemic will remain in the single district of Kibaale, although the number of suspected cases is expected to increase for awhile yet.
Ebola was originally discovered in 1976 and was named after the Ebola River near where it first appeared. Researchers have found no cure for the virus and have not discovered what causes an outbreak to flare up. Officials and citizens in the Kibaale district are on edge. Many patients in a nearby hospital fled quickly once the Ebola outbreak was confirmed on July 28. Officials from the World Health Organization told CNN that the outbreak is currently well under control and should not threaten further regions, despite the recent escape.
Photo Credit: Center for Disease Control