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Ugandan President calls on citizens to help quell Ebola outbreak

President Yoweri Museveni, speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012.

By Daniel Drake

Two more people have died and six others quarantined after an outbreak of Ebola was confirmed in western Uganda this weekend.

In a state broadcast yesterday, President Yoweri Museveni called on Ugandans to help stomp out the outbreak by avoiding physical contact and reporting symptoms quickly.

“I appeal to you to first of all report all cases which appear to be like Ebola, and these are high fever, vomiting, sometimes diarrhoea, and with bleeding,” Museveni added. “When you handle this case well you can eliminate Ebola quickly.”

Government officials confirmed the outbreak at a press conference Saturday, causing some patients to flee Kagadi Hospital where victims are being treated. At the conference, officials confirmed 20 infections and 14 deaths.

President Yoweri Museveni, speaking at the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012. Photo via DFID - UK Department for International Development on Flickr.

The virus appeared a month ago in the Kibaale district—105 miles west of the capital—but was initially misdiagnosed because it didn’t trigger the usual symptoms.

Officials are now trying to contain the outbreak and keep it away from the nation’s capital Kampala. One death has already been confirmed within the city—a health worker who is believed to have traveled there independently from the Kibaale district after her three-month old child died.

“So far no infections have occurred,” a WHO spokesperson told the Associated Press.

There is no treatment or vaccine against Ebola, which is transmitted between both humans and non-human primates through close physical contact. The virus causes hemorrhagic fever, which kills the majority of its victims. Health care workers have frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients. (Reuters)

Officials are containing the outbreak by isolating anyone suspected of infection and asking them who they were in contact with recently—a technique known as “contact tracking.” (NPR)

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