Multiple sources are now reporting that a new fatal Ebola case has been reported outside of central Uganda for the first time since the 2022 outbreak began, sparking a significant new phase in the ongoing crisis that has rocked Uganda since it was first declared in September.
The patient was identified as a 45-year-old farmer from Jinja District. He was admitted to the Buwenge Health Center following his referral from a private clinic in Buwenge earlier this week. The patient later died and was confirmed to have Ebola after samples were obtained from his body post-burial by health officials.
The Daily Monitor, a newspaper in Uganda's capital of Kampala, reported that the patient had previously been admitted on the suspicion that he might be suffering from typhoid fever.
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria and often causes symptoms like a high fever or headache. Ebola, on the other hand, is caused by the Ebola virus and is spread through contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Early symptoms of Ebola include fever, muscle pain, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and internal and external bleeding. Ebola has a high fatality rate, with past outbreaks showing a case fatality rate between 25 and 90%.
Because the patient was originally suspected to have a different disease, and because he was transferred between facilities, there is a significant risk of Ebola exposure to the healthcare workers who treated him. More than two dozen health workers have died from Ebola since the 2022 outbreak began.
First confirmed case outside of the Central Uganda region
Ugandan Health Minister Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero shared on Twitter that the patient was linked to a probable case, his brother. The brother was tied to a cluster found in Kampala and then traveled to Jinja, where he was ill for ten days. She added:
The confirmed fatal case also died at his home on 10th November and was buried on 12th November. A sample was obtained on the 10th from the dead body, by healthworkers from St Catherine Medical center, Luzinya Buwenge, a private clinic where he had sought treatment before passing on. Contact tracing and epidemiological investigations have been activated.
Jinja District, shown below, is not one of the two locked-down regions of Uganda (Mubende and Kassanda). Kampala, where this case might have originated, is also not in lockdown. Jinja has a population of more than 500,000 people.
So far, Uganda president Yoweri Museveni has promised there would be no "national lockdown" in Uganda, although his wife, Janet Museveni, has announced all Ugandan schools will close early in an attempt to curb the outbreak.
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