Ebola’s back in Uganda
Last Friday the Ugandan dailies the New Vision and Monitor both reported 16 deaths and 51 cases of Ebola in the western Uganda district of Bundibugyo bordering Congo. The mountainous area is also experiencing an influx of Congolese refugees from recent fighting in the eastern states of Congo. As of Monday morning there are 18 confirmed deaths and 58 cases.
Over the weekend, the Sunday Vision updated the story suggesting that the outbreak may have originated from social contacts during a goat roast in August. The Sunday Vision published a Reuters story reporting that CDC tests concluded the outbreak is due to a previously unknown strain which appears to have a lower case fatality rate.
This is only the second confirmed outbreak of Ebola in Uganda. The first killed more than 200 between August 2000 and January 2001 in the north of the country. According to doctors at the hospital in the town where we live, there were several local cases then when an infected soldier returned home to Mbarara town. The hospital here has an isolation unit from that time, I’m told.
It’s an interesting opportunity to see when web-based early reporting sites first noticed the outbreak. HealthMap picked up stories from November 29th forward. HealthMap sources include Google News and other less visible sites such as ProMED Mail at the International Society for Infectious Diseases. A Technorati search turned up blogposts reporting after the reports hit the news wire. No site that I’ve found has anything prior to November 14th (The Monitor, Uganda) which if offline reports of early cases in September are true, would indicate a great deal of needed improvement in early online detection. In comparison, the three Marburg cases from Kamwenge district in early August were quickly reported and quarantined.